US Taxpayers Hold Largest Debt in Troubled Spanish Solar Company

AbengoaA foreign renewable energy company, that U.S. taxpayers hold a major stake in via the Department of Energy Loan Program Office, is imperiled by massive debt and has begun the process of negotiating with its creditors as a prelude to possible bankruptcy.

The company is Abengoa, based in Spain, which reportedly holds 887 subsidiaries around the world. Reuters reported at the end of last month that investors declined to provide needed capital for the firm, which led to what is called, under Spanish law, “pre-insolvency proceedings.” That entails a four-month attempt to alleviate debt burdens. If that falls short, then formal bankruptcy proceedings would likely follow, which would be Spain’s largest in history. Effects would ripple globally.

Several international banks have investments at risk, to the tune of about $21.4 billion, according to Reuters. American taxpayers could be on the hook for $2.34 billion, which is the amount of debt …

Arizona Court of Appeals Curbs Public-Sector Union ‘Release Time’

union-privilegeConducting union business and performing employment duties are two activities that don’t, and shouldn’t, overlap.  Yet in a number of jurisdictions, taxpayers are being forced to pay for both.  In Arizona, at least, this trend has hit a detour.  This August, the Arizona Court of Appeals, affirming a lower court decision, ruled that a Memorandum of Understanding forcing the City of Phoenix to compensate local cops for union activity, while not necessarily violating the state constitution’s Gift Clause, imposed grossly excessive costs.  This was a significant, if incomplete victory for public accountability.  And further pushback against release time clauses is occurring in courts and legislatures across the nation.

Public-sector unions are private organizations.  Their activity does not serve a public purpose.  While government workers have the right to form or join a labor organization, there is no reasonable justification for allowing them to forcibly enlisting the general public to …

Government Stimulus Can’t Overcome 100 Years of EV Battery Shortcomings

Nissan logoIt’s the battery.

Contrary to the excuses that Nissan has supplied about the loss of capacity for owners of the all-electric Leaf in the desert Southwest – especially super-hot Phoenix – a tightly-controlled test of a dozen of the vehicles showed that all of them experienced reduced range. Even a month-old Leaf could not recharge to 100 percent. revealed the dismal development this week. That the power reduction came so rapidly and so quickly debunked the claims of Nissan executives Carla Bailo and Andy Palmer, who suggested the problems could lie either with owners who were charging their vehicles improperly or that the power gauges were providing faulty readings.

The Arizona tests weren’t run by a bunch of skeptics out to prove what a failure President Obama’s electric car stimulus initiative is – even though it is. Leaf owners, led by EV advocate Tony Williams, ran the tests.…

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 Carla Bailo, a Nissan …

Consumers Complain Nissan Leafs Lose Power in Hot Weather

Nissan LeafSo far American taxpayers have been forced – through stimulus loan guarantees from the Department of Energy – to “invest” $1.4 billion in a Japanese car company to build an unproven, impractical, expensive vehicle at a Tennessee power plant.

And now it can’t stand the heat.

Nissan has been dealing with complaints from owners of its Leaf electric car who reside in hot-weather states like Arizona, who say their vehicles have lost range capacity.

“When I first purchased the vehicle, I could drive to and from work on a single charge, approximately 90 miles round trip,” said one Phoenix-area Leaf owner to CBS television affiliate KPHO. Now, “I can drive approximately 44 miles on this without having to stop and charge.”

The usefulness of an electric car that costs at least twice the equivalent gas-powered vehicle, at a 90-mile range, that requires hours to fully recharge, is dubious …

Class Action Filed Against Taxpayer-Backed First Solar

First Solar Logo

Securities law firms are lining up to get a piece of the action after a class action lawsuit was filed against federally subsidized First Solar, Inc., allegedly because the company failed to disclose the massive costs it was incurring due to defects in its solar panels, leading investors to believe the company’s stock was worth more than its actual value.

The complaint, filed by the New York-based Pomerantz, Haudek, Grossman, & Gross law firm, claims that First Solar executives – including founder Michael Ahearn and former CEO Robert Gillette – “made false and/or misleading statements, as well as failed to disclose material adverse facts about the Company’s business, operations, and prospects.” The false information was allegedly delivered via annual and quarterly reports, SEC filings, press releases and other documents. First Solar is a public company traded on the NASDAQ exchange.

According to the complaint, First Solar: “deceive(d) the investing …

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 …

Is EV Recharging Company Ecotality Another Bad Obama ‘Bet’?

eTec logoIn the aftermath of the Solyndra scandal, in which $535 million guaranteed by taxpayers for the solar company’s loan has been lost, President Obama told ABC News his people “felt that it was a good bet.”

It’s chilling that our country has come so far, that few people flinch at the idea that government habitually gives away money to enterprises, whether they are worthwhile “investments” or not. It doesn’t matter if they are (say, Apple or Google) or are not (Solyndra) – if there are going to be “bets,” they should be made by entities who don’t have the power to forcibly take money from others (that is, to tax). Some call it crony capitalism, which is only a byproduct of the whole concept of corporate welfare, which John Locke Foundation economist Roy Cordato has coined “corporate socialism.”

Nevertheless taxpayer-backed “Green” investments are the flavor of the moment, …

Sharpton’s Arizona Mission: Corporate- and Union-Sponsored

Sharpton waves paper photoReverend Al Sharpton has something new to be angry about. Last Friday, April 23, Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation known as “SB1070” requiring law enforcement authorities to ask all criminal suspects to provide evidence of legal U.S. residence. The law is set to take effect 90 days after signing. Sharpton is determined to prevent that from happening. He recently announced his intent to travel to Arizona to stage mass protests against what he says is an assault on Hispanic civil rights.

Staging this campaign will cost money. But “the Rev” doesn’t have many worries on this score. His New York-based nonprofit group, National Action Network (NAN), continues to receive financial support from some of the nation’s biggest and most well known corporations and unions. This was very much in evidence at NAN’s four-day 12th annual conference, his biggest fundraising event of the year, held earlier this month in …