Fisker Failures May Prevent Delaware From Getting Its Money Back

Fisker logoAmidst its ongoing financial problems and search for a “strategic alliance” that it says is not an attempt to sell the company, Fisker Automotive continues to make its current business partners extremely nervous.

In particular are those “investors” that represent the taxpayers of Delaware, who foolishly committed $21 million in public money to the California-based company, in exchange for a promise to take over a former General Motors manufacturing plant to build its next electric car, the Atlantic. But rather than generate thousands of “green jobs,” instead the factory sits dormant while Gov. Jack Markell and the state’s economic development officials stew. And now the state has learned that if Fisker goes belly-up or fails to operate in Delaware, the repayment of the funds it has outlaid is subordinate to the rights of other lenders to get their money back, including the U.S. government.

The problem isn’t just … Read More ➡

Disguised Emails Another Example of Obama Disregard for Public Accountability

Lisa JacksonCongressional overseers seek to determine whether the cabinet agencies under President Obama (specifically the Environmental Protection Agency), who promised “an unprecedented level of openness in government,” have hidden communications about official business with the use of private and alias email accounts.

Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), wrote in a Dec. 13 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson “that you describe fully the nature and extent of this practice.” Chris Horner, author of The Liberal War on Transparency, first discovered the existence of the accounts as he researched the book. He and his colleagues at the Competitive Enterprise Institute have sued for records from the alias accounts.

At the moment the concern is over transparency, although there are countless potentially embarrassing issues that could have been addressed by Jackson and others … Read More ➡

Nissan Admits Arrogance in Sales of Taxpayer-Subsidized Leaf

Ghosn photoA top Nissan official has said the company was “arrogant” in its marketing and sales approach for the all-electric Leaf, which received a $1.4 billion stimulus loan guarantee from President Obama’s Department of Energy.

Not that the company is going to return taxpayers their money, since the premise upon which Nissan received the loan were ridiculously high production estimates. Too much in expenses would have to be eaten otherwise.

“We were a little bit arrogant as a manufacturer when we went to the 50-state rollout,” said Al Castignetti, Nissan’s vice president for sales, to Automotive News in late November. “We had assumed that there were people just waiting for the vehicle who would raise their hand and say, ‘Give me a Leaf, give me a Leaf, give me a Leaf.’”

Considering there weren’t many people “raising their hands” in the few states where Nissan did roll out the … Read More ➡

Will Fisker Be Sold to the Chinese Now Too?

Fisker logo

This story has been updated at the end.

Fisker Automotive finally received a good review for the only model it has produced – the highly subsidized, widely panned and sometimes burned extended-range electric Karma – from automobile aficionado Jay Leno.

But that didn’t prevent the recipient of $193 million out of President Obama’s green stimulus from laying off another 40 workers. According to the Orange County Register, Fisker spokesman Roger Ormisher said the company – which had been awarded a $529 million loan guarantee by the Department of Energy only to see it halted due to unspecified shortcomings – had to halt production because its bankrupt supplier, A123 Systems, left them with a low battery inventory. Ormisher said Fisker has laid off about half its employees since February.

So Fisker’s woes – both deriving from A123 and self-inflicted – continue, and “The Tonight Show” host’s … Read More ➡

Chinese Company Wins Auction for Taxpayer-Backed A123 Systems

A123 logoThe auction for the assets and business of green stimulus recipient A123 Systems has been won by Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group, which aggressively sought the electric vehicle battery maker at least since the summer.

The successful bid – reported to be about $260 million – follows weeks of warnings by the U.S. government, congressmen and a group of former military and other leaders that transfer of the Massachusetts-based company would compromise American jobs, technology and security. The auction attempts to address some of those concerns, as Wanxiang was not awarded any of A123’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense. Instead the company’s “government business,” including all its military contracts, was awarded to Illinois-based Navitas Systems.

“We think we have structured this transaction to address potential national security concerns expressed during the review of our previous investment agreement with Wanxiang announced in August as well as to … Read More ➡

Apple Doubles Renewable Project at Expense of Duke Energy Customers

green Apple logoA data center in western North Carolina built by Apple, Inc. has now doubled the size of its associated power-generating fuel cell facility, one which in April NLPC reported was a conflict of interest for Apple director and former Vice President Al Gore.

Major technology companies such as Google, Facebook and eBay build these massive server farms to support services such as cloud computing, but in an effort to pacify environmentalists about their enormous energy use, many go to great lengths to make these facilities appear “green.” They’re not.

Chief among the techno-eco-conscious is Apple, which has dropped a bundle on supplemental renewable energy projects – especially one that is adjacent to its new computer server facility in Maiden, N.C. First came a 100-acre solar farm that was built as the result of what you would think would be environmentally offensive clear-cutting, but three years of tree burning didn’t … Read More ➡

Opposition Grows to Sale of A123 Systems to China

A123 logoThe Chinese government, unsurprisingly, has approved a potential sale of stimulus-funded ($279 million-plus) A123 Systems to one of its own automobile parts manufacturers, should the Wanxiang Group’s bid be the highest this week for the bankrupt electric vehicle battery maker.

That was the easy part.

So far Republican Sens. Charles Grassley (Iowa) and John Thune (S.D.) have repeatedly raised questions and concerns about the possible transfer of A123’s business, jobs and technology from the U.S. – where taxpayers have thrown in approximately $132 million only to see many times that amount in losses since its 2009 initial public offering – to China. They’re no longer the only voices speaking out against the transaction.

Last week the Strategic Materials Advisory Council, a coalition of former U.S. Government and military leaders and industry experts, announced its opposition to a transfer of A123 to Wanxiang’s control. The group sent a … Read More ➡

Jim Rogers to Leave Duke Energy After Merger Fiasco

Jim Rogers and windmill photoThe long, crony-capitalizing, rent-seeking reign of CEO James Rogers at Duke Energy looks like it will come to an end – in a year, but possibly sooner.

The departure follows the saga that was the merger between Charlotte, NC-based Duke and Raleigh, NC-based Progress Energy, which was completed in June – sort of. After the North Carolina Utilities Commission delivered the final regulatory approval it needed, Duke’s board ousted former Progress head Bill Johnson. Throughout the nearly 18-month process the pending partner companies proclaimed Johnson would be the CEO of the new combined Duke, with Rogers moving up to chairman, but the directors schemed in the final months of negotiations and then sprung the firing on Johnson only hours after they congratulated him on his new position.

The NCUC was not happy about the deception, and launched an investigation and hearings with hints dropping all around that … Read More ➡

Nissan Cancels Grand Opening of Taxpayer-Backed EV Plant

Ghosn photoThe moment that all we electric automotive industry stakeholders (that is, taxpayers) have been waiting for has arrived! The dreams that spurred our $1.4 billion investment in Nissan’s Tennessee plant, for construction of the all-electric Leaf, and its batteries, will finally be realized!

Pass out the scissors for the ribbons, set up the podium for the dignitaries, and roll out a few of those shiny new models…what’s that you say? The ceremony’s been cancelled?

Sure enough, the planned grand opening a couple weeks ago for the Japanese automaker’s factory in Smyrna, Tenn. was called off. It’s not going to be rescheduled. The excuse was that there was a scheduling conflict “among key stakeholders,” which is a surprise considering that with so much taxpayer money behind Nissan’s loan guarantee, “key stakeholders” are plentiful.

But seriously, the horrid-selling Leaf never deterred Nissan from celebrating every milestone – real and … Read More ➡

Green Energy Stimulus Bankruptcies Come in All Sizes

ReVolt logoThe little-reported bankruptcy of a relatively small electric vehicle battery manufacturer last month illustrates the many problems with President Obama’s green energy stimulus program, and why the more appropriate location for the ramblin’, gamblin’ White House might be Las Vegas.

This smaller (compared to other Recovery Act beneficiaries) example is ReVolt Technology, which relocated from Switzerland to Oregon to take advantage of a $5 million Recovery Act grant from the Department of Energy in order to develop and mass-produce a “zinc-air” vehicle battery. Its technology was developed in Norway where the company was backed since 2004 by Viking Venture Management. According to the Portland Business Journal, ReVolt believed it could “deliver twice the energy of conventional rechargeable battery technologies, such as lithium-ion.”

Federal money wasn’t the only attraction. The company also received $5 million in city and state loans, as well as business energy tax credits. Thus we … Read More ➡