Project launched in wake of Hurricane Sandy
Less than a week after Hurricane Sandy plunged much of the mid-Atlantic region into darkness, the Obama administration unveiled a new initiative aimed at mitigating the impact of “unreliable grid power.”
Not across ravaged coastal New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, but in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The direct beneficiary of the administration’s generosity is a publicly traded Pakistani cement and concrete producer, according to a planning document that U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor located via routine database research.
The Lahore-based Pioneer Cement Limited, or PCL, requested a grant from the U.S. Trade & Development Agency, or USTDA – an independent White House entity – to fund a feasibility study of its modernization plans.
USTDA agreed, thereby requiring U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill for eco-friendly industry representatives needing international flights and hotel accommodations. The agency is offering a $770,000 grant to make it happen, Solicitation Number 2012-31033A shows.
The completed study also may come with recommendations for further financial or technical assistance to PCL, which ultimately wants to build a biomass-fired power plant as well as a waste heat recovery unit “and energy efficiency upgrades to mitigate or reduce dependence on unreliable grid power,” the document says.
Biomass, “as a renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms,” as defined by the Surrey, England-based Biomass Energy Center. PCL, for instance, uses residues from agricultural waste such as rice husks and wheat straw.
USTDA acknowledges that the grant-recipient Pakistani company is thriving. Indeed, the targeted facility “is equipped with two cement production lines with a total production capacity of 6,200 tons” of clinker – the primary component of cement – per day.
The agency laments, however, that “PCL’s production costs are rising, particularly in terms of fuel and power. As a result, PCL is intent on maximizing production capacity utilization, maintaining quality, and reducing its cost of production.”
Implementation of the biomass-fired power plant will help PCL “to meet the cement plant’s internal demand, with any surplus energy being sold to the National Transmission & Despatch Company,” the solicitation says.
USTDA touts itself for helping “companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.”
The agency on its website claims that last year it “identified over $2.2 billion in U.S. exports that were directly attributable to USTDA-funded activities.”
But as the Monitor reported earlier this year, sometimes those companies include multi-billion-dollar corporations such as GE, which stands to gain from USTDA-financed energy projects in Kenya and Tanzania.
The agency often pays for feasibility studies and “definitional missions” as the first steps toward the modernization of other nations’ industries – including the oil industry in places such as Libya.
USTDA has since embarked upon a separate Libyan project.
Interestingly, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks – the very day of the al Qaida-staged attacks resulting in the deaths the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others – USTDA in a Special Notice recognized the “technical merit” of an unsolicited proposal to create Internet access points across Libya.
Benghazi and Tripoli were identified as two target cities to deploy the access points. No action – neither a contract award or project cancellation—has been announced in that particular matter.
Congress this week separately began hearings on the Benghazi attack.
This article originally was published via WND.com Nov. 14. Under agreement with the publisher, rights have reverted back to to the author, Steve Peacock.