As the Department of Energy seized the last of Fisker Automotive’s reserves in lieu of an unknown amount that it was due to repay this week, what’s left of the lame electric automaker clings to the slim hope it can survive.
While CEO Tony Posawatz and his team may need an intervention, a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday revealed that DOE and committee Democrats (as well as those in the Obama administration) are hopelessly stuck in an alternate universe, where losing millions of taxpayer dollars is considered a good record. Republicans had called officials from the company – including founder Henrik Fisker, as well as administrators of DOE’s loan program – to explain the logic that went into granting $529 million to a fledgling, unproven car company that targets an ultra-rich clientele.
President Obama’s alternative energy “stimulus,” administered through his Department of Energy by previous Secretary Steven Chu, had already become a joke because of the failures and foibles of so many recipients of Recovery Act funds. But now – as though officially commemorating the absurdity of this historically bad U.S. government program – one of its bankrupt beneficiaries has changed its name from one of simplicity to one of mockery.
That’s according to a report published earlier this month by the Government Accountability Office, which reviewed DOE’s loan programs for a briefing to both the House and Senate’s Appropriations subcommittees on Energy. Amusingly though, the Web site of DOE’s Loan Programs Office still calls itself “The Financing Force Behind America’s Clean Energy Economy.” The minor blip that undermines that premise is that DOE is having trouble getting someone to borrow $55 billion.
The past year was a dismal one for the passé idea that government would use taxpayer dollars responsibly, and that was nowhere more evident than with President Obama’s initiatives to promote “clean” energy technology companies and projects with so-called “stimulus” funds and other public money. NLPC reported extensively on some of the most egregious examples.
The 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.
As the now-bankrupt stimulus loan recipient Abound Solar filed for Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy in early July thanks largely to its defective modules, the Department of Energy still praised the company’s work as “innovative” and cost competitive, all while it blamed Abound’s failure on China for dumping underpriced panels on the market.
And now, despite the fact that Abound no longer exists, DOE is still withholding public information about the company because it claims it would harm the inactive business’s competitive edge by disclosing trade secrets.
As 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 Telegrapharticle from Wednesday.