Today the Denver Post reported that General Electric (GE) cancelled its plans to build a $300 million solar panel manufacturing plant in Aurora, Colorado. GE originally promised that the factory would bring 350 jobs to the area. Instead, GE plans to sell the solar panel technology to First Solar and close down the research facility that created the technology. A GE spokesperson said that 50 people at the facility would lose their jobs.
In April of 2011 GE announced plans for the factory and 10 states began offering incentives to GE to host it. State and local governments in Colorado offered GE up to $26 million in tax rebates and $2 million for job training to build the factory in Aurora. The money was not dispersed as the factory never materialized. The factory would have manufactured solar panels developed in part by the Department of Energy (DOE). In 2007 and 2008, the DOE gave approximately $3 million in grants to PrimeStar Solar which created the solar panels that would have been manufactured at the factory. Additionally, PrimeStar spawned from research on solar panels done at the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. GE invested PrimeStar in 2007 and later bought the company.
In 2011, the DOE celebrated announcement of the factory as a success story for its SunShot Initiative while Secretary Chu visited PrimeStar’s facility. (See “Another SunShot Success: GE to Make PrimeStar Solar Panels at New Colorado Plant”.) The SunShot Initiative has funded 150 projects, but has received criticism for funding companies that have gone bankrupt or laid-off workers such as Abound Solar, SpectraWatt, and SoloPower.
Molly Young at The Oregonian writes about a solar panel maker in Oregon who has defaulted on a state loan:
SoloPower has defaulted on a $10 million loan, state officials confirmed late Wednesday, the same day that executives at the struggling solar panel maker announced they were near a deal to restructure debt and reorganize in Portland.
Chief executive Robert Campbell said major creditors have agreed to terms that focus on rebuilding the organization in Portland, where the company originally planned to build a $340 million factory and employ hundreds.
Tom Elias reports that California has canceled $28 million in grants for hydrogen pumps after it was revealed that carmakers had a large say in where the pumps could be located.
Last year’s grants were canceled and reforms promised just two weeks after this column disclosed that the commission required any site have approval from at least one large automaking company before it could get state grant money.
Carmakers, then, were deciding who could get public money. That didn’t last long once the arrangement was disclosed, the commission promising new rules.
Andrew Evans from The Washington Free Beacon reports the bankruptcy of Flabeg Solar, a mirror manufacturer from PA. The mirror manufacturer’s bankruptcy might severely affect the stability and economic efficiency of some of the solar projects funded by the government. The company has received $19 million in state and federal grants, loans, and tax credits.
Flabeg Solar U.S. Corp., a mirror manufacturer based in Pennsylvania, filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday after it could not afford to pay several former employees their severance packages, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Flabeg is reported to have received millions of dollars in financial assistance from federal and sate governments. Pennsylvania helped the mirror manufacturer build its plant near Pittsburgh with $9 million in grants and loans. The Obama administration awarded Flabeg $10.2 million in tax credits, according to the Post-Gazette.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, from Real Clear Markets, has written the following article stressing how Italy has substantial problems in their economy. The EU forces Italy to buy subsidized alternative energy at almost five time the cost of other sources, increasing the Italian deficit and on top of that their politicians have the highest salaries in Europe.
Italian electricity companies have to buy all wind power generated at $392 per megawatt hour. They must buy solar power at $520 per megawatt hour. In comparison, electricity generated by natural gas costs $95 per megawatt hour. How ironic that the European Central Bank is trying to get Italy to reduce its deficit, yet the EU insists that Italy buy alternative electricity at four or five times the cost of natural gas. Austerity obviously doesn’t apply to electricity production.
Italy’s politicians have the highest salaries in Europe, $250,000 a year, plus $20,000 annually in travel expenses. When they retire, their pensions range from $47,000 to $200,000 a year.
Michael Chamberlain from Watchdogwire.com reported how the Silver State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) will cost Nevadans $2.275 billion over the next twelve years, according to this study, done by the Beacon Hill Institute.
The authors claim the RPS will result in a loss of approximately 1,930 jobs and a reduction of more than $230 million in Nevadans’ disposable income during that time. In addition, the study states that the RPS isn’t likely to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHGs) nearly as much as advertised.
The study found: The current RPS law will raise the cost of electricity by $174 million for the state’s electricity consumers in 2025, within a range of $45 million and $310 million Nevada’s electricity prices will rise by 6 percent by 2025, due to the current RPS law, within a range of 1.6 percent and 10.8 percent.
Angela Greiling Keane at Bloomberg writes an article about the numbers behind an automaker that the government has given millions of taxpayer dollars:
Fisker Automotive Inc. spent more than six times as much U.S. taxpayer and investor money to produce each luxury plug-in car it sold than the company received from customers, according to a research report.
The Anaheim, California-based company made about 2,500 of its $103,000 Karmas before halting production last year, disrupting its plans to use a $529 million U.S. loan to restart a shuttered Delaware factory owned by the predecessor of General Motors Co. (GM) The Karma was assembled in Finland.
Mark Modica at the NLPC blog writes about the government’s investment in new technologies that may end up being a huge waste of money:
The worst part of this mostly-untold story is the taxpayer money that continues to be wasted on the green pipe dream. The American people were lied to about the potential for the Chevy Volt, as well as for the technology behind it. Billions of dollars were spent on grants and failed loans for production of plug-in EVs, lithium-ion batteries and charging stations. Wealthy purchasers of $40,000 Chevy Volts and $100,000 Teslas receive federal tax credits for $7,500 each. Subsidized battery makers like A123 Systems are bankrupt and government-supported, green automaker Fisker is not far from it. How are middle-class or poor Americans benefiting from any of this?
A WSJ column by Kimberley A. Strassel delves into the cronyism involved in the government loan process for automakers, showing an example of a company that was almost given loans despite clear signs they were not qualified:
For an excellent study in how green-energy cronyism works, look instead to the near miss (for taxpayers) of Next AutoWorks. That startup applied for a $320 million federal loan guarantee in 2009, promising a Louisiana factory that would produce cheap and fuel-efficient cars. Next didn’t, ultimately, get its loans.
It wasn’t from a lack of political lobbying. Emails referenced in a House Oversight subcommittee hearing this week confirm every suspicion about the degree to which powerful moneymen worked the system on behalf of their investments, pushing their political contacts to roll over Energy’s credit department.
Bill Wilson writes at Fitsnews about the EPA’s cronyism, and how it has threatened public safety:
According to OpenSecrets.org, Honeywell lobbied Congress on the issue of hydrofluorocarbons from 2009-2011 — right up until the EPA’s approval of HFO-1234yf. While it’s not clear what they were pushing for, a ban on these substances would have dramatically increased demand for the new refrigerant.
Whether this is a case of crony capitalism or the “green agenda” run amok remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Gina McCarthy approved the promotion of a dangerous product that threatens American lives and jobs.