Taxpayers Take Hit as Solar Industry Implodes

First Solar Logo

In a year where Solyndra became the face of the solar industry’s chronic failures, even the holiday season could not prevent one last flurry of layoffs in 2011.

The Mountain Enterprise (based in Frazier Park, Calif.) reported over the weekend that First Solar, Inc. – which the media sometimes identifies as the largest solar company in the world – laid off half its employees on Friday at its Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project. The facility has been the subject of controversy in the local community over the effects it will have on land use, wildlife, and water usage.

In a September 30 press release that announced the sale of the 230-megawatt photovoltaic “farm” to Exelon (First Solar will still build, manage and operate the project), up to 400 construction jobs and as many as 15 operations positions were supposed to result. The Department of Energy, which provided a $646 … Read More ➡

Chevy Volt Gets “Worst Product” Award

General Motors’ much-hyped Chevy Volt has yet another distinction to add to its long list of commendations. We had all heard repeatedly about Motor Trends’ Car of the Year award, Consumer Reports’ recommendation and Jay Leno’s love affair with the car, but the Volt now gets a less publicized, more deserved distinction from Yahoo Finance’s 24/7 Wall Street site. The Volt has made the list of “The Worst Product Flops of 2011” and apologists for the vehicle are sure to, once again, attack the credibility of those issuing the opinion.

The Obama Administrations’ favorite car has had a rough time of late with sales goals not being met, exploding cars at NHTSA and media exposure of the high cost to taxpayers regarding Chevy Volt subsidies and federal funding of township purchases. Considering all the money spent by GM to hype the vehicle, the Worst Flop award is well-deserved. … Read More ➡

Taxpayers’ Leaf: Four Recharging Stops Needed to Go 180 Miles

Nissan Leaf photoConsumer Reports has painted an ugly picture of the Nissan Leaf, as did an early enthusiast based in Los Angeles, who described his frustrations with the heavily subsidized, all-electric car in a recent column.

Now comes what must be the definitive example of the Leaf’s impracticality – this time from a (still) hard-core advocate, whose 180-mile Tennessee trek to visit family over the holidays required four lengthy stops to keep the vehicle moving.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, set out from Knoxville on Monday with his wife and son, headed for the Nashville area. His plan (appropriately) was to follow Interstate 40 West, where a series of Cracker Barrel restaurants – equipped with so-called “fast” vehicle chargers (if you want to call 30 minutes or more “fast”) along the route – would provide an electricity security blanket as the Leaf’s charge diminished. 

Only problem … Read More ➡

Time to End $7,500 Electric Car Tax Credit

Kelly photoPennsylvania Congressman, Mike Kelly, wants to end the $7,500 tax credit that affluent purchasers of electric vehicles are currently taking advantage of. The most hyped of these vehicles has been General Motors’ Chevy Volt, but other plug-in cars, like Fiskers and Teslas, sell for close to $100,000 and make a strong case for Rep. Kelly’s argument.

Let’s look past the recent Chevy Volt fires. The value of a vehicle will be determined by the consumer. It does not matter if Jay Leno and other rich purchasers say they love their Volts. The real questions are, should taxpayers be paying the wealthy to purchase cars like the Volt, and what, exactly, are the taxpayers getting for their money?

GM has stated that the buyers (other than federally subsidized townships and crony corporation GE) of Chevy Volts have an average annual income of $175,000 and are more affluent than the … Read More ➡

‘Beyond Petroleum’ Gives Up on Solar

bp solar no more

BP Solar, the alternative energy subsidiary of the oil industry giant which received a $7.5 million Department of Energy grant only four years ago, announced last week it would exit the solar business.

The unit just closed its only U.S. manufacturing facility, in Frederick, Md., last year. The company said it would outsource its production of solar photovoltaic panels to China and India. BP CEO Tony Hayward told the Washington Post at the time it was “moving to where we can manufacture cheaply.” BP auctioned equipment in January this year from the closed plant, and in a sign the overall industry – with bankrupt Solyndra as its face – is completely tanking, an experienced industrial auctioneer told the Frederick News-Post, “We’ve been doing more solar technology auctions lately.”

So much for the excuse that U.S. solar companies “can’t compete” because of the cheap, heavily subsidized production of panels in … Read More ➡

Taxpayer-Subsidized Electric Vehicles Are a Bust

NLPC Associate Fellow Paul Chesser was interviewed last night on Cavuto on the Fox Business Network. Paul asserted that electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt have failed in the marketplace, despite massive taxpayer subsidies. Here’s a transcript:

Neil Cavuto: Well as you can tell, I have been somewhat subdued in my criticism of electric cars, especially the Volt.  But despite my downplaying Americans seem to be plugged in to the fact that plug ins are not in.  I want you to check out this USA Today headline, that’s right, copying me, questioning if electric cars are losing their spark.  Of course it is a misleading headline since they never had a spark.  But I digress because you have lost me and USA Today, well I think that it is fair to say you lost the … Read More ➡

The MF Global Collapse Explained (And Why It Should Be a Crime)

Corzine photoAnybody using the financial services industry puts their faith and trust in a whole lot of people they have never seen or ever will. We all rely on regulators and regulations that are instituted by state and federal governments.  In fact, almost anybody who has any savings probably has them parked in one of our financial institutions. To sharpen your focus on this, remember that about 80% of the balance of your checking account is tied up in loans that some strangers have promised to repay.

As a test of your thinking, how would you like to invest in this, as described in Wikipedia?

…2005 saw Man Financial make its largest deal with the transformative $323 million acquisition of client assets and accounts from entities of Refco, following the U.S. financial-services group’s collapse in late 2005. The Refco deal…boosted Man Financial’s scale in retail and institutional business.

In June

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Chevy Volt Sales Figures Inflated With Fleet Purchases

Last night on Neil Cavuto’s show on Fox News Channel, NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica discussed disappointing sales of the Chevy Volt, and GM’s apparent goosing of sales figures through fleet sales. Here’s a transcript:

Neil Cavuto: Ten thousand Volts. That was the sales jolt that GM was hoping for this year. But with less than two weeks to go, lets just say that this puppy may be about to short circuit big time. Volt watcher Mark Modica says the numbers may be even worse than they appear. They are going to be well shy of that right, Mark?

Mark Modica (National Legal and Policy Center): Correct.

Neil Cavuto: What is the real story?

Mark Modica: Well, not only are they not hitting the goal, but it seems like a lot of these purchases, once again are being purchased by taxpayers, who through federal funds are giving … Read More ➡

Facebook Caves to Greenpeace After Pressure Campaign

white Coke can

Greenpeace, which has campaigned against technology companies for nearly two years over their coal-burning electricity use at “cloud computing” data centers, has convinced one – Facebook – to promise to use renewable energy at facilities they build in the future.

The international environmental pressure group’s members have singled out the popular social networking site in a drive to “Unfriend Coal,” in order to fight the global warming problem that is still vivid in their collective imagination. They are particularly incensed that Facebook has built data centers in Oregon (Pacific Power) and North Carolina (Duke Energy) that are customers of utilities that generate a large percentage of their electricity from coal. Greenpeace initiated its campaign using the site’s own online tools against it, by starting groups in English and Spanish that gather members who wanted “Facebook to run on 100 percent renewable energy.” The group also attempted to … Read More ➡

FERC Flunks Duke Energy-Progress Energy Merger Proposal, Again

white Coke can

Fresh from its latest payoff of environoia groups in exchange for their support of their merger, Duke Energy and Progress Energy must return to the drawing board after the second rejection of their proposal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

It’s a story of two Davids against a Goliath, and no, it’s not the utilities against the big bad government regulator. Rather, two small eastern North Carolina cities – Rocky (“Gonna Fly Now”) Mount and New Bern – convinced FERC that the merger plan would harm their ability to purchase electricity in a competitive environment. Both municipalities deliver power to their residents through a cooperative of cities and towns in eastern North Carolina, but dissented from their fellow members’ approval of the merger. Coastal New Bern has been led by Mayor Lee Bettis Jr., a former New York Mafiosi defense lawyer, who has vowed to “go it alone the … Read More ➡