In his weekly radio address on July 3, 2010, President Barack Obama announced that “the Department of Energy is awarding nearly $2 billion in conditional commitments from the Recovery Act to two solar companies.” Neither of them was named Solyndra.
One of the two companies Obama did name was Fort Collins, Colorado-based Abound Solar, which Obama touted as a company which would create “more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs” at two new plants which “When fully operational … will produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year.” As Amy Oliver detailed at Townhall a year ago, Abound is a classic case of Obama bundler cronyism. In July, just shy of two years after Obama’s address, the company, which benefited from $400 million of Department of Energy loan guarantees, filed for bankruptcy. Yesterday, a Colorado District Attorney announced a criminal investigation.
President Barack Obama in 2010 spoke at LG Chem subsidiary Compact Power, an electric battery plant in Holland, Mich., to tout his administration’s decision to pour millions and millions of taxpayer’s dollars into the clean energy industry.
“Our goal has never been to create a government program, but rather to unleash private-sector growth,” Obama said. “And we’re seeing results.”
“This is a symbol of where Michigan’s going. This is a symbol of where Holland is going. This is a symbol of where America is going,” he added.
Much like Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod’s premature Nats gloat tweet, the president’s 2010 Holland speech seems pretty ominous in retrospect.
Why? Because, according to a new report from Target 8, that same electric battery company President Obama spoke at in 2010 is an unmitigated disaster and a shameful waste of tax dollars.
For starters, there’s no work to be done. Employees, who are being paid with the $150 million the Department of Energy awarded the plant, claim they show up and sit around because there’s nothing to do. It has gotten to the point where employees spend most of their time playing cards and/or board games and watching movies to keep themselves entertained.
“There would be up to 40 of us that would just sit in there during the day,” one former LG Chem employee Nicole Merryman, who said she quit in May, told Target 8.
The president’s green energy policies don’t add up
By Donald J Bourdreaux
Speaking recently at America’s largest solar energy plant — in Boulder City, Nev. — President Obama insisted that green energy is so important, “You’d think that everybody would be supportive of solar power. And yet, if some politicians have their way, there won’t be any more public investment in solar energy.”
Indeed. And judging from the recent actions of Obama’s Commerce Department, the president himself is among those politicians.
The Commerce Department has decided to impose tariffs ranging from 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent on subsidized Chinese solar panels that are imported into the U.S.
It takes remarkable cheek for Obama to insist that, while American “public investment” in green energy is virtuous, Chinese “public investment” in green energy is vile.
Not that opposition to subsidies for solar and other “green” energies is to be lamented. Quite the opposite. Politicians have no expertise at forecasting consumers’ energy needs or identifying how best to meet those needs. And the fact that the money politicians spend to promote green-energy firms comes from taxpayers further reduces the likelihood that such subsidies will yield positive payoffs for the general public.
In a sane world, Obama would celebrate Beijing’s subsidies to Chinese solar panel exporters. Those subsidies supply Americans with the alleged benefits of artificially low-priced solar panels, but on China’s nickel!
In keeping with the recent trend of so-called green companies going into the red, another solar energy company supported by President Obama’s top administration officials declared bankruptcy today.
Solar Trust for America received $2.1 billion in conditional loan guarantees from the Department of Energy — “the largest amount ever offered to a solar project,” according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu — for a project near Blythe, Calif., but declared bankruptcy within a year. It is unclear how much of the guarantee, if any, was actually awarded.
After filing for bankruptcy last year, Fremont solar company Solyndra still owes American taxpayers half a billion dollars. But CBS 5 caught them destroying millions of dollars worth of parts.
At Solyndra’s sprawling complex in Fremont, workers in white jumpsuits were unwrapping brand new glass tubes used in solar panels last week. They are the latest, most cutting-edge solar technology, and they are being thrown into dumpsters.
Forklifts brought one pallet after another piled high with the carefully packaged glass. Slowly but surely it all ended up shattered.
And it’s not a few loads. Hundreds of thousands of tubes on shrink-wrapped pallets will meet a similar demise.
Solyndra paid at least $2 million for the specialized glass. A CBS 5 crew found one piece lying in the parking lot. Solyndra still owes the German company that made the tubes close to another $8 million.
Yesterday there was another White House document dump regarding Solyndra’s bankruptcy filing just after the 2010 elections. While Solyndra is the crown jewel in the Department of Energy’s “you can’t make a green omelette without breaking a few hundred million taxpayer eggs” trial-and-error initiative, there are many other examples.
CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson — who was one of the first reporters on the Solyndra trail — featured 11 other DoE loan recipients that either have or probably will take a Solyndra-style plunge and suck down $6.5 billion of taxpayer loans with them.
Just months after obtaining more than $400,000 in federal stimulus funds, TR Auto Truck Plaza off Interstate 40 sits idle.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) handed out the $424,000 Environmental Protection Agency stimulus grant for electrical hookups so that truckers wouldn’t have to burn diesel fuel while resting. Both the state and EPA were apparently unaware that owner Rick Lewis had a history of legal and financial problems and had filed for bankruptcy.
What was originally lauded as Tennessee’s first electrified truck terminal is now boarded up.
“It is Solyndra in miniature,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., referring to a Silicon Valley solar panel manufacturer that filed for bankruptcy shortly after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy. “What I am questioning is the vetting and oversight and the fiduciary responsibility that the federal government — the people who run these programs — have to we, the taxpayer.”
Even before his latest bankruptcy filing, Lewis had a history of financial troubles. He filed for bankruptcy in 2003, a year after a conviction on 31 counts of theft. And Lewis currently faces indictments for allegedly writing worthless checks, according to court records.
With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.
Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.
Someone affiliated with the Department of Energy has been going back to make changes to press releases posted on the Internet weeks and months ago, CNBC has found.
The changes occurred in two press releases from the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program – the same program that has been the center of controversy surrounding the failed solar company Solyndra.
Both were changed to remove the name of a company that has received negative press attention in recent days, SunPower, and replace it with the name of another company, NRG Energy.
Generally, it is not considered correct procedure to revise old press releases retroactively on the Web. More commonly, government agencies will issue a new press release with a current date explaining any changes that have occurred.
Conservatives know well that Mitt Romney has so far refused to back away from his contention that anthropogenic global warming is real, and yet the former Massachusetts governor continues to lead the Republican race for the presidential nomination. In seven debates, none of Romney’s competitors have challenged him on this position. This week, however, the blog Moonbattery found a very interesting memo from Romney’s office in 2005 announcing tough new regulations on emissions and noting a partnership with a familiar conservative b’te noire in this administration (via Sundries Shack):
Governor Mitt Romney today announced that Massachusetts will take another major step in meeting its commitment to protecting air quality when strict state limitations on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants take effect on January 1, 2006. …
Massachusetts is the first and only state to set CO2 emissions limits on power plants. The limits, which target the six largest and oldest power plants in the state, are the toughest in the nation…
In addition to reaffirming existing stringent CO2 limits, the draft regulations announced today, which will be filed next week, contain protections against excessive price increases for businesses and consumers. They allow power generation companies to implement CO2 reductions at their own facilities or fund other reduction projects off-site through a greenhouse gas offset and credits program.
In other words, the Romney administration in 2005 essentially did what Barack Obama’s EPA wants to do now. He imposed CO2 emission caps, “the toughest in the nation,” in an effort to curtail traditional energy production. Not only did Romney impose these costly new regulations, he then imposed price caps to keep power companies from passing the cost along to the consumer. As we have seen in RomneyCare, regulation and price controls eventually drive businesses into bankruptcy or relocation.
So what has happened to Massachusetts’ electrical production since signing these regulations into law? According to the EIA, whose latest data is for 2009, it dropped 18% in four years, from over 46 billion megawatt hours to 38 billion. International imports, however, went from 697 million megawatt hours in 2006 to 4.177 billion megawatt hours two years later, and to almost 5 billion megawatt hours in 2009, more than twice the amount imported in any of the previous twenty years.
And who advised Romney on these regulations? Why, none other than Obama’s chief science adviser, John Holdren…
With the Solyndra scandal still swirling, the Obama administration is under pressure to reveal the financial condition of the solar companies that received $4.75 billion in similar federal loan guarantees on the last day of the program.
Republican lawmakers on two House committees are seeking details about the loans given to First Solar, SunPower Corp. and ProLogis. Of those three companies, troubling financial revelations have emerged about SunPower, which sponsored a solar project that received a $1.2 billion loan, more than twice the money approved for Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy last month after receiving a $528 million loan.
The Energy Department says on its website that the $1.2 billion loan to help build the California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo County, a project that will help create 15 permanent jobs, which adds up to the equivalent of $80 million in taxpayer money for each job.
Newly released e-mails show the Obama administration’s Energy Department was poised to give Solyndra a second taxpayer loan of $469 million last year, even as the company’s financial situation grew increasingly dire.
The department was still considering providing the second loan guarantee to the solar-panel manufacturer in April and May 2010, at a time when Solyndra’s auditors were already warning that the company was in danger of collapsing.
Details of the plan are revealed in e-mails released this week by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the original loan. On Wednesday, the probe intensified as committee Republicans requested that the White House provide all documents, dating back to President Obama’s inauguration, that would show communications between staff members and other officials regarding Solyndra’s original $535 million federal loan guarantee.
Republican leaders said that documents obtained in recent weeks show that Obama’s “closest confidantes” monitored the loan, and that his campaign donors offered advice on the company.
President Barack Obama’s “green jobs” initiatives suffered another major blow late Monday, as the nonprofit National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado, announced a plan to lay off roughly 10 percent of its staff through a voluntary buy-out plan.
According to the Denver Post, the lab plans to eliminate between 100 and 150 of its 1,350 jobs. The Obama administration supported the NREL in 2009 with roughly $200 million in stimulus grants. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu visited Golden in May 2009 to promote the NREL as a beneficiary of those funds.
GOP claims that the Obama administration’s green energy loan guarantee program is mired in cronyism grew on Friday after a company tied to Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law got the lion’s share of the final government hand-outs made before Friday’s end of the fiscal year.
The decision to guarantee $737 million comes hard on the heels of the loss of more than $500 million of government money due to the bankruptcy of solar panel company Solyndra.
The new grant went to Tonopah Solar Energy, a subsidiary of SolarReserve, which started building Crescent Dunes, a massive solar-thermal plant in the Nevada desert in early September.