Taxpayer-Funded Solar Company Leaves Environmental, Financial Mess

solar panelsIt 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.

There was other collateral damage, not the least of which was a huge toxic mess from unused panels and abandoned chemicals at Abound’s former facilities. The environmental nightmare was discovered earlier this year, but this month – thanks to …

Party Time for Corporations Who Love the Regulatory Favoritism Game

Obama InvescoPresident Obama’s speech last week that re-emphasized his commitment to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions brought dismay to those who appreciate affordable energy, but it sparked a celebration among corporate types who have long sought caps and taxes on CO2.

While it was still more words from the president, which don’t always match his actions, on CO2 limitation he has largely kept his promise to environmentalists. Critics slammed his plan to bypass Congress and to task the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions via executive order, but EPA has operated out of bounds since he was inaugurated in 2009 – especially with the “war against coal” that is now universally accepted as true.

“What has us most encouraged by the president’s speech is he is lacing up his gloves and getting ready for that fight,” said Michael Brune, executive director for the Sierra Club, in an interview …

No April Fools: Obama’s Green Energy Stimulus is Officially a Joke

Three Stooges photoPresident 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.

Electric vehicle battery maker A123 Systems has changed its name to B456 Systems. Incorporated.

Reporting the development, headline writers across the nation rubbed their eyes, double-checked the wire information, and then – especially realizing how close they were to April Fool’s Day – had to add extra assurance to the breaking news.

For the Boston Herald, where A123 was headquartered near MIT, it was this:

A123 Systems changes name to B456 (seriously)

The Milwaukee

2012: The Year of Taxpayer ‘Green’ Waste

Obama InvescoThe 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.

Solar Favors Don’t Stop Fizzle

Solyndra went bankrupt in 2011, and the reverberations over $535 million in lost taxpayer money were felt throughout 2012. Money still flowed out from the Department of Energy and its stimulus stash, but Congressional Republicans’ scrutiny of big projects – especially in the Loan Program Office –paralyzed some new projects.

The year began with BP, which not long ago downplayed fossil fuels in favor of a “Beyond Petroleum” motto, exiting the solar business despite having received a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. government …

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 …

GE Solar Delay Shows Timing Will Never Be Good

solar panelsWe’ve heard this story before.

Much like taxpayer-backed Abound Solar – which just revealed it would declare bankruptcyGeneral Electric announced last week it would suspend construction of a solar panel manufacturing plant in Colorado. The excuse given was that GE plans to focus on research and development to improve the technology and efficiency of the panels it wants to produce.

“With the re-focus on technology, we’re sizing our team accordingly and really focusing our people on the technology side as we take this pause in the manufacturing build-out,” said Lindsay Theile, communications leader for GE’s renewable energy business, to the Web site Recharge.

That’s what officials at Abound said in February when the company – also based in the Centennial State – lopped off 70 percent of its employees while it allegedly performed upgrades to its plant to manufacture more efficient solar panels. That move followed an

Yet Another DOE Green Failure as Abound Solar Goes Bankrupt

Abound logoThe 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.

The latest example is Loveland, Colo.-based Abound Solar, which only four months ago laid off 70 percent of its employees in what it said was a plan to upgrade its plant to manufacture more efficient solar panels, with plans to restore production levels and rehire most employees within six to nine months. Yesterday – hidden under the news that the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare – the company released a statement that said it would end operations next week, liquidate, and make unemployed its remaining 125 workers.

The Department of Energy had awarded Abound a $400 million loan guarantee, $70 …

First Solar’s Crony Socialism is a Big Failure

First Solar Logo

Renewable-loving Los Angeles is showing that even the power of billions of dollars in taxpayer “stimulus” cannot overcome the dominant hand of government regulation, and ironically it’s costing President Obama more green jobs.

One of the darlings of the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program, First Solar, has seen its stock price take a drubbing, laid off thousands of workers, and left its leadership – with significant influence from Walmart’s Walton familyscrambling to save the company. The latest stumble has led to another setback of worker inactivity at First Solar’s Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project in California, approximately 75 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, despite $646 million in taxpayer-guaranteed loans. At issue is a disagreement with Los Angeles County safety inspector over electrical installations and whether they meet standards.

According to one “Green tech” Web site, approximately half of the …

Taxpayers Subsidize Forbes ‘Green’ Billionaires’ Schemes

Vinod Khosla

This story has been updated below.

The three top U.S. tycoons on Forbes’s “Green” billionaires list have received billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for their clean technology companies, after they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for political campaigns and lobbying.

Two of the moguls, Elon Musk and Vinod Khosla (in photo), are technology pioneers based in California with net worths of $2 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively. The third, Christy Walton, is the widow of the late John Walton who was an heir to the Walmart fortune. Forbes says she is “the world’s richest woman” is worth $24.8 billion.

Significant percentages of Musk’s and Khosla’s value are derived from “eco-friendly” holdings. Musk’s main green investments are in Tesla Motors, an electric automaker, and SolarCity. Among Khosla’s clean-tech assets are KiOR and Gevo, both biofuels companies, and Calera Corporation, a company that uses captured carbon …

Taxpayers Reward Executives for Failure as Green Jobs are Slashed

First Solar Logo

First Solar, the beneficiary of at least $3 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantees, paid its former CEO $32 million over two years as he stewarded its stock price from $143 to below $100. Today it sells for less than $21-per-share, hitting a 52-week low last week, and yesterday the company announced it would slash global payroll by 2,000 workers in Malaysia, Europe and the U.S.

The Arizona Republic reported Thursday that Rob Gillette, who was terminated as CEO in October, received $16.55 million during the first three months of employment in 2009 (October to December), and then $13.3 million for all of 2010. Last year he made $2.46 million, $1.7 million of which was severance. The newspaper also reported First Solar also paid its eight top executives nearly $16 million last year. 

Before yesterday’s news, the company announced in December it would sever 100 employees. Then …

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