It may be the height of irony that a company that was supposed to soar to the top of the new clean energy economy, with the help of U.S. taxpayers to undergird President Obama’s stimulus visions, has instead left both an environmental and financial mess after its demise.
Yet that’s exactly the case with miserable failure Abound Solar, which the president’s Department of Energy thought so much of, they awarded it a $400 million loan guarantee. That proposition quickly soured and the government halted payouts after about $70 million. The company went bankrupt in June 2012, leaving taxpayers out between $40 million and $60 million that was never recovered.
NLPC has reported regularly on several of the large-ticket boondoggles that have received taxpayer support via President Obama’s “green” stimulus initiatives, but for every Fisker, Nissan Leaf or Ecotality, there are thousands of smaller, equally unworthy beneficiaries that deserve public scorn.
Government watchdogs – both “professional” and amateur – can scour the Recovery.gov Web site and find the waste pretty easily. But KCNC-TV reporter Brian Maass had the stimulus program come to his doorstep. Denver had launched a program, paid for out of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to plant about 4,000 trees at private residences (photo courtesy KCNC) – many in high-priced neighborhoods that didn’t need the free shade.
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.
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.
The next time a green energy company announces it is intentionally slowing down for a transition phase, or that a technology breakthrough is just around the corner, or that all that’s needed for future success is just a little more taxpayer “investment” – don’t believe it. It's likely a lie.