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 ➡

Dismal Outlook for EVs on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Nissan Leaf photoFor electric vehicle enthusiasts with the “if you build it, they will come” mentality, who endorse endless taxpayer subsidies for plug-in automobiles and infrastructure to charge them, there’s bad news this week.

The Daily Mail reported that sales of electric cars in the United Kingdom have fallen so sharply that there are now more charging stations than there are vehicles. If you thought the flaccid U.S. sales of the Chevy Volt (7,671 units) and Nissan Leaf (9,674 units) were a letdown – despite significant government funding for research and development, batteries, charging systems, and a $7,500 tax credit for buyers – the signs from Europe won’t lift spirits.

“Just 2,149 electric cars have been sold since 2006, despite a government scheme last year offering customers up to £5,000 (about $7,700 U.S. dollars) towards the cost of a vehicle,” the U.K. newspaper reported. “The Department for Transport says that around 2,500 … Read More ➡

Energy Dept. Makes More Bad Bets with Taxpayer Money

Chu photoAs the U.S. government Venture Capitalist-in-Chief (and President) Barack Obama and his Department of Energy investment guru (and Energy Secretary) Steven Chu pour other peoples’ money into their favorite “clean” technology schemes, private backers appear to be following them off the cliff, “as publicly traded battery makers watched their stocks tank and their businesses stumble,” according to a Dow Jones report late last month.

According to a Dow Jones-owned industry tracker called VentureSource, private investors put $372.7 million into 14 battery deals over the first three quarters of 2011. Whether they would have transferred so much cash into the otherwise shaky enterprises, without the government leading the way, is doubtful at best. But since the Obama administration wants to create “Green jobs” with a new energy economy, the fools have rushed in, ignoring the fact that government manipulation of industry only creates bubbles that eventually burst.

“Building a whole new … Read More ➡

Democratic National Committee Taps Crony Corporations

Obama InvescoAs Democrats struggle to raise funds to coronate President Obama as nominee in Charlotte, N.C. this September, the role of two crony corporations increases daily.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that the president’s re-election organization will consider moving his acceptance speech at the Democrat National Convention to Bank of America Stadium.

Three unidentified Democrats “involved in the fundraising” told the news service the goal would be to sell more skyboxes to wealthy donors, apparently because fewer are available at Time Warner Cable Arena where the convention is presently scheduled.

“The almost 74,000-seat home of the Carolina Panthers professional football team would also have room for the convention to sell more floor passes close to the stage,” Bloomberg reported. “Planners for the event are struggling to meet a $36.6 million fundraising goal, according to the Democrats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.”

Back in … Read More ➡

Russian Oligarch Tries to Cash In on Obama’s Crony Capitalism

Alexi MordashThe Department of Energy announced on Friday it would not complete a low-interest, $730 million loan to Severstal North America, after it had given the company a conditional commitment in July under its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.

DOE gave no reason for its disapproval of the loan, but it had come under scrutiny about its judgment after the collapse of solar company Solyndra, which was lent $535 million in taxpayer dollars. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa called upon Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to revisit the Severstal project – which would modernize its facility in Dearborn, Mich. to produce so-called advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) – because the company “had ample means to carry out the project” and had “apparently no need for federal financing,” among other reasons. Severstal N.A. is a wholly owned subsidiary of OAO Severstal, owned by Russian tycoon Alexei Mordashov (in photo), … Read More ➡