First Solar’s Crony Socialism is a Big Failure

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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 Reward Executives for Failure as Green Jobs are Slashed

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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 …

Class Action Filed Against Taxpayer-Backed First Solar

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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 …

Taxpayers Take Hit as Solar Industry Implodes

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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 …