Nissan Integrity at Stake in Leaf Owners’ Battery Test

Nissan Leaf photoIn what looks like an attempt to avoid a potentially costly and disastrous recall of its taxpayer-funded electric vehicles, Nissan has dismissed the concerns of its Leaf customers in Arizona and other hot states by claiming the apparent loss of battery capacity is “normal.”

Owners of the company’s dismal selling plug-in have banded together to collectively test their vehicles and see just how “normal” their loss of “bars” on their power indicators are.

Over the weekend twelve Leaf owners – led by EV advocate and Leaf owner Tony Williams – were to conduct an extended range test in Phoenix, according to the Web site Green Car Reports. In July NLPC reported that Nissan has been dealing with complaints from mostly Southwestern U.S. owners of the Leaf, who say their vehicles have lost range capacity, which were publicized on the discussion board Web site MyNissanLeaf.com. Carla Bailo, a Nissan … Read More ➡

Taxpayer-Funded Electric Vehicle Maker Needs IPO Cash to Survive

Frito Lay Electric TruckSmith Electric Vehicles, which is using $32 million in taxpayer stimulus to practically give away its delivery trucks to corporations like Frito-Lay (owned by PepsiCo), Coca-Cola and Staples, is hemorrhaging money anyway and now is looking to an initial public offering to pay off debts and try to survive.

The Kansas City Star reported last week that Smith cut its production expectations and warning it is running low on cash, citing filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company announced nearly a year ago it would seek $125 million through an IPO, but now says it hopes to raise about $76 million at a stock price of $16 to $18, according to a Kansas City Business Journal report.

Good luck with that. The Journal said the revenues generated “would help pay off a $16.5 million bridge loan, $1.3 million related to a legal settlement involving … Read More ➡

Chinese Solar Company Learns Cronyism with Harry Reid

Harry Reid photoA solar company project that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid successfully lured to Clark County, Nev. – where his son Rory was a former commissioner and now lobbies on behalf of the Chinese company that owns it – now wants the dominant utility in the state to buy its electricity.

So does Senator Reid, who is frustrated because every component to make ENN Energy Group move forward with the project is in place except for NV Energy, the state utility, to enter an agreement to buy the electricity. For the most part wind and solar farms don’t get built unless there is assurance that utilities will accept their power.

At an annual energy summit that Reid hosts, he said in a July 30 online conference that ENN “would start tomorrow if NV Energy would purchase the power,” according to a Reuters report. Adding that the utility controls 95 percent of … Read More ➡

China Can’t Compete in Solar Either

solar panelsAs U.S. solar companies struggled, quit the business or outright failed in recent years, the blame has been the same: “We can’t compete with China;” “They manufacture panels far cheaper than us;” “They dump their cheap products in our country;” and “China understands the future of renewables and we need to catch up.”

That excuse soon won’t fool people any more, according to a London Telegraph article from Wednesday.

“China’s big five firms are all reporting disastrous trading and heavily indebted balance sheets,” the newspaper reported. “At the end of the first quarter, JA Solar listed debt and liabilities of $1.5 billion, Trina Solar had debts of $1.08 billion, and Yingli had debts of $3.44 billion.” 

In addition another highly regarded company, Suntech, faces potentially huge payouts related to possible fraud and has $3.58 million in debt. The fifth company, LDK, is being kept afloat by the Chinese government … Read More ➡

NY Times Discovers Obama’s Favorite Utility

John Rowe photoAttentive NLPC readers were aware of the extent of Exelon Corporation’s activism to gain regulatory favor in support of “green” policies in which it reaped millions of dollars in government grants and mandates, but last week’s lengthy New York Times article about the cronyism-tainted relationship between the Chicago-based utility and the Obama administration revealed a few nuggets.

The story told how Exelon, with top executives as “early and frequent” supporters of the president as his political career ascended, were able to gain more access to the White House than others thanks to their longstanding relationships. According to one Exelon lobbyist, his employer was considered “the president’s utility.”

“White House records show that Exelon executives were able to secure an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon’s competitors, but … Read More ➡

Big Obama Donor ‘Investigated’ DOE Loan Program

Herbert Allison

When is a government watchdog not really a watchdog?

When he rolls over and lays at the feet of his master rather than sink his teeth into a program that he’s been tasked to guard.

Such appears to be the (unsurprising) case with Herbert Allison, Jr. (pictured), a former Wall Street executive (Merrill Lynch and TIAA-CREF) until he was appointed president and CEO of Fannie Mae in 2008, after it was put into conservatorship. Subsequently President Obama named (and the Senate confirmed) him as overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion asset acquisition fund that bailed out Wall Street financial institutions. He served in that role for about 15 months, until September 2010.

But it’s Allison’s role as a special investigator of the Department of Energy’s stimulus-funded loan program that is sparking curiosity, as explained in an Associated Press story published yesterday. Not long after … Read More ➡

NASDAQ Delisting Threat Jeopardizes Chinese Rescue of A123 Systems

A123 logoTwo weeks ago the mainstream and clean tech advocacy media proclaimed that taxpayer-subsidized, failing electric vehicle battery maker A123 Systems would be saved by a deal with a Chinese company.

Since then the Massachusetts-based manufacturer’s stock price sank below what had been its previous low of 44 cents. This morning it is down to 38 cents, and yesterday the company received a delisting notice from the NASDAQ. So what happened?

There could be several reasons why the recipient of hundreds of millions of U.S. stimulus dollars hasn’t impressed Wall Street with its pending bailout from Wanxiang Group. The deal is not binding, so obviously either party could back out.

One possible reason it may fail is that the U.S. and Chinese governments must approve it, which are uncertainties. China will probably embrace it, which will be discussed momentarily. But the fact that so much U.S. government money has been … Read More ➡

Fisker Recalls Karma; EV Maker Blasted by Rival Elon Musk

A123 logoThe electric vehicle fire in Woodside, Calif. about a week ago has led to the third recall in the short life of taxpayer-subsidized ($193 million in stimulus) Fisker Automotive and its plug-in hybrid model, the Karma.

The first two recalls were caused by problems with batteries produced by Fisker’s similarly troubled supplier and business partner, A123 Systems. The company said this time the fire was caused by a failure in a cooling fan, which caused overheating while the vehicle’s owner shopped for groceries inside a store. About 2,400 Karmas – 1,400 of which are in the possession of customers – will need to be recalled.

“We are committed to responding swiftly and decisively to events such as this to ensure total customer satisfaction,” said executive chairman Henrik Fisker. “This incident resulted from a single, faulty component, not our unique EVer powertrain or the engineering of the Karma. As … Read More ➡

DOE’s Derelict Judgment Makes Abound Solar a Tax Scofflaw

Abound logoBankrupt manufacturer Abound Solar, which is liquidating despite having received $70.9 million in taxpayer-backed loans from the Department of Energy, may leave government services in its former Weld County, Colo. home in trouble because of diminished property tax revenues.

The Greeley Tribune reported last week that Abound owes nearly $1 million for this year and by next year will have accumulated $1.8 million in county tax debt. As a result various school, public safety and other government services departments will have to look at budget cuts. The school district where Abound’s taxes went to, in St. Vrain Valley, will have to absorb more than a half-million dollars in lesser revenues because of the company’s failure.

Every county, city and community deals with property tax losses due to foreclosures and business closings, but the Abound Solar/Weld County example is one in which an unworthy company, that was the beneficiary of crony Read More ➡

New Fisker Fire, While Taxpayers Cover Utility Bills for Empty Plant

Fisker logoAnother government-funded electric vehicle has burned.

This time it’s the second fire in a Fisker Karma, which received $193 million out of a $529 million award from a Department of Energy loan guarantee before the cabinet agency cut the company off for failure to meet still-undisclosed milestones. This blaze (video), according to a report on the automotive Web site Jalopnik, occurred in a Woodside, Calif. parking lot while its owner was inside a store shopping for groceries.

In another development, the State of Delaware has been stuck paying more than $400,000 in utilities bills for a vacant factory that Fisker was supposed to occupy and use to manufacture its next electric car model, the Atlantic.

As for the fire, Fisker has acknowledged the incident. 

“We have more than 1,000 Karmas on the road with a cumulative 2 million miles on them,” the company said in a statement published … Read More ➡

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