More Bankruptcies Just Mark of ‘Success’ for Dept. of Energy

Fisker logoFisker Automotive declared bankruptcy last week, inspiring the eternally optimistic Obama Department of Energy to crow about its achievements again.

“Recognizing that these investments would include some risk, Congress established a loan loss reserve for the program, and the Energy Department built in strong safeguards to protect the taxpayer if companies could not meet their obligations,” Bill Gibbons, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News. “Because of these actions…the Energy Department has protected nearly three-quarters of our original commitment to Fisker Automotive.”

Leave to the Obama administration hucksters to sell yet another green energy loser as a gain for the taxpayers. With this bankruptcy, it’s a $139 million loss that DOE gets to spin. The stellar defenders of the public purse originally thought Fisker was worth a $529 million risk, but quickly recognized that mistake and stopped paying at $193 million. Ever since it’s been a …

House Committee Grills DOE Loan Program Director Over Secret Emails

Jonathan SilverA hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week investigated the Obama administration’s practice of concealing email communications, with former top officials getting grilled about their use of private Internet accounts to conduct government business.

Two of the most egregious offenders were subject to withering scrutiny, although it didn’t last long enough to get very deep. Lisa Jackson, the former EPA Administrator whose FOIA-evadable email address was under the alias “Richard Windsor” – named in part for her dog – was questioned about a message sent to Siemens vice president Alison Taylor in which she asked her to “use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly….”

Jackson, of course, said it was perfectly normal to direct a corporation official that she regulates to communicate with her via methods for which the public has no access. Marlo Lewis of …

Fisker’s Venture Capital Firm Still Hasn’t Learned Cronyism Doesn’t Pay

John Doerr photoThe sniping and backbiting behind the financial scenes are escalating as those involved with Fisker Automotive and other green tech flops seek to direct blame for their investment failures. U.S. taxpayers, as usual, have suffered bystander casualties.

The latest controversy surrounds Silicon Valley investment firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, which has suffered a series of setbacks over its strategy to place sizable wagers on so-called “clean energy” companies. Their tech bettors hit on several huge successes during the 1990s dot-com boom, which history shows was a huge bubble with a nasty burst. The same thing happened with the government-fueled housing expansion and now the renewable energy sector is ballooning for the same reason.

The conflicts with Kleiner Perkins are mostly about disagreements over who said what to whom and when – soap opera stuff. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, recipient of a $465 million stimulus loan guarantee from …

Al Gore, DiCaprio AWOL as Fisker Circles the Drain

Al Gore photo

UPDATE 11:30 a.m. Friday: Reuters reports that Fisker has hired a bankruptcy attorney.

Fisker Automotive, which has received $193 million of a $529 million Department of Energy stimulus loan guarantee and apparently still wants the rest of it, stopped making its sole electric car – the $102,000-plus Karma – last July. But only now has it decided to furlough workers for a week.

“In parallel with the process of identifying a strategic partner, Fisker is, of course, continuing to manage its day-to- day operations and has recently instituted temporary furloughs for its U.S. workforce covering the final week of March,” the company said.

The announcement came this week from the company, which despite having raised more than $1.2 billion in private capital, hasn’t been able to keep the factory lines running. In its official statement, though, Fisker said that’s quite normal.

“This is a common practice, …

Apple’s 100-Percent Renewable Claim Fails the Sunlight Test

green Apple logoApple, Inc. has grown into a widely admired and one of the most valuable companies in the world, producing terrific products that generate long waiting lines every time a new innovation is announced. You would think executive leadership would not feel the need to bow to environmental pressure groups to appear it is eco-friendly.

But apparently acceptance by the likes of Greenpeace, and a warm reception at Silicon Valley liberals’ cocktail parties, still ranks high in importance in the corner offices in Cupertino, Calif. – even though their boastful claims aren’t true.

The latest example surrounds Apple’s absurd assertion that its electricity-sucking data centers, which support services like cloud computing and iTunes, are powered completely by renewable energy. Why the Mac-makers would brag about a phony achievement that is so easily debunked makes you wonder how smart they really are.

“Our goal is to power every facility at Apple …

Henrik Fisker Quits as Chairman of His Own Company

Fisker logoIn the end, even Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber, Jay Leno, former Chrysler and General Motors execs, billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalists, generous California government incentive givers, Delaware subsidizers, and President Obama’s Department of Energy investment arm couldn’t overcome the dud that was the $102,000-plus Fisker Karma.

And now as the company desperately seeks for cash and/or a rescuer – probably in China – a disagreement arose between Fisker’s founder and its top management. So the man for whom the company was named, Henrik Fisker, quit. The Los Angeles Times and dozens of other outlets reported yesterday that Mr. Fisker left over disputes about “direction” for the company, citing “several major disagreements.”

But Automotive News seemed to have the inside track on the Danish designer’s thinking, after it was able to obtain an email interview.

“I’m proud of having brought the first luxury plug-in …

Fisker Failures May Prevent Delaware From Getting Its Money Back

Fisker logoAmidst its ongoing financial problems and search for a “strategic alliance” that it says is not an attempt to sell the company, Fisker Automotive continues to make its current business partners extremely nervous.

In particular are those “investors” that represent the taxpayers of Delaware, who foolishly committed $21 million in public money to the California-based company, in exchange for a promise to take over a former General Motors manufacturing plant to build its next electric car, the Atlantic. But rather than generate thousands of “green jobs,” instead the factory sits dormant while Gov. Jack Markell and the state’s economic development officials stew. And now the state has learned that if Fisker goes belly-up or fails to operate in Delaware, the repayment of the funds it has outlaid is subordinate to the rights of other lenders to get their money back, including the U.S. government.

The problem isn’t just …

Apple Doubles Renewable Project at Expense of Duke Energy Customers

green Apple logoA data center in western North Carolina built by Apple, Inc. has now doubled the size of its associated power-generating fuel cell facility, one which in April NLPC reported was a conflict of interest for Apple director and former Vice President Al Gore.

Major technology companies such as Google, Facebook and eBay build these massive server farms to support services such as cloud computing, but in an effort to pacify environmentalists about their enormous energy use, many go to great lengths to make these facilities appear “green.” They’re not.

Chief among the techno-eco-conscious is Apple, which has dropped a bundle on supplemental renewable energy projects – especially one that is adjacent to its new computer server facility in Maiden, N.C. First came a 100-acre solar farm that was built as the result of what you would think would be environmentally offensive clear-cutting, but three years of tree burning didn’t …

Fisker’s Big Fundraiser is Going Out of Business

Fisker logoThe venture finance operation that raised money for crony capitalist investors Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, and their green tech firms like electric car company Fisker Automotive ($193 million paid in stimulus loan guarantees) and fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy, is shutting down, according to a Fortune report.

Advanced Equities, Inc. had recently been reprimanded by the Securities and Exchange Commission and by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for misleading investors and for breach of contract with its brokers. Fortune cited sources that said AEI brokers were told last week that Monday would be their last day. Crain’s Chicago Business confirmed that AEI was shutting down its broker-dealer business following its regulatory troubles, which “made it difficult to run the business.”

The co-founders of the Chicago-based firm, Dwight Badger and Keith Daubenspeck, received a sharp reprimand and severe fines from the SEC in September for delivering …

SEC Issues Big Fines, Penalties Against Green-Tech Investment Firm

A123 logoThe venture capital redistributionist game that surrounds President Obama’s green energy stimulus doesn’t necessarily require the actual delivery of taxpayer cash to crony corporations. Sometimes the malfeasance appears simply based upon the false promise of government “investment.”

Such was the case with the co-founders of Chicago-based Advanced Equities, Inc., who just received a severe reprimand (including big fines) from the Securities and Exchange Commission for dispensing false information to potential funders in attempts to gain private equity investment. In two separate offerings in 2009 and 2010, co-founder Dwight Badger (who left the firm in June) was accused of telling investors that the financial condition and business orders for Advanced Equities’ client – revealed to be fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy by Crain’s Chicago Business – far exceeded reality. Badger’s partner, co-founder and Board Chairman Keith Daubenspeck, was fined for “failing to reasonably supervise Badger.”

Advanced Equities also was the …

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