NextEra, GE Connect With Government Help

Updated to correct the terms of the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm deal.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet -- There hasn't been much job creation-related activity from the President's Council of Jobs and Competitiveness of late, but a few of the high-profile names assembled by the White House have been busy getting deals done with each other and the federal government.

For example, Lew Hay is CEO of NextEra Energy ( NEE) and sits on the council along with Jeff Immelt, the head of General Electric ( GE), the council's leader. And sure enough, in late September. NextEra and GE Energy Financial Services got together to jointly acquire the Desert Sunlight solar project from First Solar ( FSLR). Even better, the U.S. Department of Energy is partially guaranteeing $1.46 billion worth of loans for Desert Sunlight.

There's probably not too much worry over GE paying its loan, but NextEra? NextEra has a debt-to-capital ratio of 59%. Maybe not as bad as Solyndra, but why is the DOE continuing to put tax dollars at risk to guarantee loans for already heavily indebted companies? NextEra's total debt stood at $21.6 billion as of June 30.

NextEra has also been the recipient of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants. The company received $100 million in funding in 2009 through the ARRA to expand its Northern Colorado Wind Energy farm. And the company is going after more ARRA grant money for another wind farm in Illinois called the White oak project.

To be fair, it's admirable to see the country shift subsidies from fossil fuel companies to more alternative fuel sources and Next Era seems an ideal candidate. It was named one of the Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere magazine for being a socially responsible company and named to Fortune Magazine's World's Most Admired Companies. But cash had dwindled down to $287 million by the end of June from $535 million in 2008.

In addition to the ARRA grants, NextEra enjoys complicated tax credits too. The word complicated is taken directly from the company's filings. In its last quarterly report the company wrote, "The earnings recognition of convertible investment tax credits is a bit more complicated."

And it seems wind isn't as steady of a source of income as it first seemed. NextEra said in its last conference call, "The combination of lower power prices, the economic downturn and continued uncertainty regarding federal climate legislation or a renewable portfolio standard is clearly adding to the industry's development challenges." So while the company is highlighting the challenges of wind power, it is still happily taking tax credits and grant money from the government.

It's also a bit concerning that those who know the company best have been selling stock at a pretty steady clip of late. Around 6.9 million shares have been sold by insiders in the past two quarters, 1.65% of the company's outstanding stock.

NextEra did not respond to questions about hiring or layoffs or how much grant money in total it has received.

-- Written by Debra Borchardt in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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