Surprise! Another DOE Solar ‘Bet’ Produces Green Job Losses

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Yet another solar company that received loan guarantees from the Department of Energy has dismissed factory workers, lopping off 70 percent of its U.S. employees. Loveland, Colo.-based Abound Solar announced Tuesday it would lay off 280 workers at its production plant near Longmont, leaving 120 still employed. The start-up (2009) company attributed the cutbacks to the need for upgrades at the plant to manufacture more efficient solar panels, with plans to restore production levels and rehire most employees within six to nine months.

“Hopefully at the end of that time period we will bring people back,” said Steve Abely, Abound’s Chief Financial Officer, to the Boulder Daily Camera

DOE’s $400-million loan guarantee to Abound closed in December 2010, after President Obama delivered a weekly message a few months earlier hyping his jobs plan in a “clean energy economy,” in which he cited his plans for Abound:

Energy Secretary Steven ChuRead More ➡

Obama-Supporting Law Firm Advised on Failed Fisker Loan

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An international law firm, which gave substantial political donations to President Obama and fellow Democrats over the last three campaign cycles, received its own significant stimulus award to advise on a controversial Department of Energy loan transaction with a struggling electric vehicle manufacturer.

The firm, Debevoise & Plimpton LLC, received $1,842,180 in Recovery Act funds to provide legal advice, conduct due diligence, and review documents for two loans from DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. One $529 million loan award was to Fisker Automotive to develop and produce two lines of electric vehicles, with plans to create 2,000 new jobs at a renovated General Motors plant in Delaware. After receiving $193 million under that loan, DOE halted payments to Fisker in May 2011 after it failed to reach milestones set out in the agreement. Work on renovations to the Delaware plant was suspended, and the company … Read More ➡

After Layoffs, Execs Get Big Raises at Taxpayer-Funded A123

A123 logoA taxpayer-funded electric vehicle battery company, that is considered in great danger due to its dependency on troubled EV company Fisker Automotive, has awarded its top executives big salary increases despite a steep downward trajectory in its stock price.

Massachusetts-based A123 Systems — which received $279.1 million in stimulus money from the Department of Energy, and up to $135 million in incentives from the State of Michigan — boosted the base salaries of two vice presidents and its chief financial officer on February 8.

Chief Financial Officer David Prystash was bumped 27 percent to $380,000; VP of Energy Solutions Robert Johnson’s base salary increased 51 percent from his 2010 level to $400,000; and VP of Automotive Systems Jason Forcier saw his pay rise 32 percent from 2010, to $350,000. The news was first reported by the Boston Web site of Citybizlist.com, which obtained the information from an A123 SEC filingRead More ➡

Integrity of Fisker Capital Funding is Questioned

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How did a start-up electric car company that raised more than $1 billion suddenly fail to meet government-lending standards, to the point where it can no longer draw on an awarded Department of Energy loan and has therefore halted renovation work on a Delaware plant?

 

That’s one curiosity about Fisker Automotive, a high-end manufacturer that apparently has burned through so much cash that it does not want to move forward with plans to produce an electric family sedan without the assurance that another $336 million will come forth from taxpayers. Despite having a reported $850 million in private investment and $193 million from that $529 million loan, Fisker laid off 65-or-so employees last week as DOE froze payments.

DOE’s action was attributed to Fisker’s failure to attain certain unidentified “milestones.” Fisker had projected the delivery of 15,000 Karmas in 2012, at a showroom cost of $102,000 for the … Read More ➡

Will DOE’s Fisker Doubts Take Down Its Battery Supplier Too?

A123 logoAfter luxury electric automaker Fisker announced 65 layoffs and a work stoppage from the refurbishment of a former General Motors plant in Delaware earlier this week, NLPC wondered whether its battery supplier and business partner A123 Systems would be harmed also.

Now Wall Street analysts are wondering the same thing, and the beleaguered lenders at the Department of Energy must be deeply concerned about what they will do next. As Forbes reported yesterday, the close ties between the two speculative companies could produce “two Solyndras for the price of one.”

To recap, Fisker is the California company that was awarded a $529 million loan from the Recovery Act, in addition to $9 million from the state of Delaware and $850 million it has raised privately. After it received $193 million from the loan through May 2011, DOE halted payouts because Fisker failed to attain milestones in the delivery … Read More ➡

Many Unanswered Questions Surround Fisker Layoffs

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This post has been updated below.

Among the objections about taxpayer subsidies for the high-profile Chevy Volt, manufactured by Government Motors, is that the many grants, loans and tax breaks that lowered the sticker price on the electric hybrid car facilitated its (paltry) sales for the benefit of wealthier individuals who were purchasing it – those with average annual salaries of $170,000. So can you imagine how happy the affluent customers (like Leonardo DiCaprio) of the heavily subsidized, $102,000 electric Fisker Karma are, to be able to purchase their gimmicky sports sedan at a discount, with a $7,500 tax credit to boot?

Undoubtedly they are much happier than the 65 poor souls that Fisker just laid off. Will there be more?

Passing it off as “a bump in the road,” company spokesman Roger Ormisher chalked up the cutbacks to the difficulty in starting a new car … Read More ➡

Green Tech Doesn’t Need Taxpayer ‘Investment’

Google logoPresident Obama said in his State of the Union speech last month that he would not “walk away from the promise of clean energy,” and according to a Politico report, he “doubled-down” on the promise by highlighting (more) commitments to federal grants and incentives for wind energy, solar power and natural gas vehicles in quasi-campaign speeches out West.

“We’re not going to cede the wind industry or the solar industry or the battery industry to China or Germany because we’re too timid to make that same commitment here in the United States,” the president said at another appearance at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado. “We’ve got to double down on a clean-energy industry that’s never been more promising.”

The president speaks as if these energy technologies would wither without government support. But last year USA Today reported that big companies were “aggressively” jumping into clean technology, with one … Read More ➡

Taxpayer Cash for Ener1 Helped a Thrice-Failed Foreign EV Company

Think City carLast week yet another treasured Obama administration “Green” energy company – electric vehicle battery manufacturer Ener1went bankrupt, after having been granted $118 million in stimulus funds in August 2009. But the gift did more than just sustain it and subsidiary EnerDel; the cash enabled the company to bail out what would be its top customer, a Norwegian electric car company that had already been drained of cash on at least three previous occasions.

Oslo-based Think Global itself filed for bankruptcy again last June.

Think, whose primary model is a two-seater called the Think City, was to produce its glorified electric scooters at a revamped plant in Elkhart, Ind. – a plan that was also endorsed and supported by popular (with national Republicans) Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is still dreamed about by some conservatives as a worthy presidential candidate. Think’s economic development goals were closely linked to … Read More ➡

Did DOE Rush to Give Away Stimulus Compromise National Security?

The hurry to take advantage of funds appropriated through the Recovery Act for “shovel ready” projects impelled the federal agencies – especially the Department of Energy – to hastily allocate the money, and as a result taxpayer money flowed to projects marred by fraud, corruption, poor workmanship, failing companies, and crony corporate socialism.

And now DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman has discovered the rush to distribute stimulus money may have compromised national security. In an audit report of the department’s management of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, which received $3.5 billion to modernize and improve the reliability of the U.S. power grid, the IG found that grant recipients’ plans to prevent “malicious cyber attacks” were often inadequate.

“In our review of security plans,” the report said, “we noted that the plans did not always include sufficient information related to risk assessments and/or other important elements, and, that … Read More ➡

Taxpayers Take Hit as Layoffs, Bankruptcies Plague Green Firms

Ener1 photoFederal tax credits, loan and grant programs that expired at the end of last year have plugged the financial flow that made so-called “renewables” and electric vehicles viable, so they are now shedding employees and going bankrupt, illustrating that the “clean” industry owed its existence solely to government.

Even with the government money, they are failing. Yesterday Indiana-based Ener1, an energy storage company that received $118.5 million from DOEfiled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Despite plans to have 1,400 employees in Indiana by 2015, the company had downsized in the state from 380 to approximately 250 since March. Ener1’s stock price fell from more than $4 a share to under a dollar, and the company was booted from the NASDAQ stock exchange in October, when its stock was trading for less than 20 cents.

The Department of Energy seems to have no limit in its willingness to subsidize … Read More ➡