Skip to comments.Stimulus-Backed Solar Facility Touted By Harry Reid Shuts Down
Posted on 07/18/2012 7:02:46 PM PDT by Hunton Peck
A federally-funded solar production facility in Nevada has ceased operations, according to a former employee at the facility. The closure could prove troublesome for the companys political allies.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the North Las Vegas production facility for solar panel manufacturer Amonix has not operated since May. The plant was backed by $21.5 million in federal green energy investment in the form of a grant and a package of tax credits and touted at length by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The Review-Journal reports:
Rene Kenerly, a former material and supply manager at Amonix, said the plant has been idle since May 1, when he was laid off. At its peak, the plant had ramped up to about 700 employees working three shifts a day to produce solar panels for a utility customer in Amarosa, Colo., he said.
I dont think they had a lot of training, Kenerly said. There were a lot of quality issues. A lot of stuff was coming back because it had some functionality issues.
The Review-Journal was unable to confirm with Amonix that it had ceased operations at the facility. Scribes attempt to confirm the report likewise went unanswered.
If solar panel production at the facility has permanently ceased, it could prove awkward for Reid, who touted the permanent green jobs that Amonixs Nevada business supposedly represented. The company laid off 200 employees in January.
In May of 2010, Reid attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility. Amonix is taking full advantage of a tax credit from the Recovery Act and is helping Nevada lead the way in producing clean energy, Reid said at the time. Ive pushed hard to establish a clean energy industry in Nevada that will diversify our economy and protect us from future economic downturns.
Amonix would be the second Nevada-based and Reid-backed green energy project to hit dire financial straits in recent weeks. Nevada Geothermal, which received a $98 million stimulus loan guarantee, announced in a recent SEC filing that material uncertainties exist which cast significant doubt upon the companys ability to continue as a going concern.
Like Amonix, Nevada Geothermal received significant support from Reid before obtaining taxpayer backing. According to the New York Times, Reid pressur[ed] the Department of Interior to move more quickly on applications to build clean energy projects on federally owned land and urg[ed] other member of Congress to expand federal tax incentives to help build geothermal plants, benefits that Nevada Geothermal has taken advantage of.
The only thing “green” about “green energy” is all of the taxpayer money that’s being thrown into those sewers hoping something good might happen.
I wonder how much of this money wound up back in the pockets of Nevada Dem politicos.
As long as Harry Reid got his money in kickbacks and campaign donations, he could give a rats tail about it.
I’d bet some of that $21.5M went back to Obama. They need to follow the money down to the last penny.
The 2 x 4 foot panels produced 500 watts. Will one of these produce enough electricity to recover the juice used to make it?
Hey, don’t forget o’l Dingy Harry. I’m sure he got his cut.
Amonix is another company declaring bankruptcy after not being able to make it in the solar energy market. This is another company that was heavily subsidized by the federal government with 6 million dollars in tax credits and a 15 million dolllar grant from the US Department of Energy. The company has only been open for 14 months.
This is one of a long line of clean energy companies that have recently failed or faced difficulty
* Solar Trust of America - Opened in 2009 and went bankrupt in April of 2012. Solar Trust received a 2.1 billion dollar loan guarantee from the Dept of Energy but fortunately turned it down.
* Bright Source - Opened in 2008 and is still in business thanks to a last minute 1.6 billion dollar loan in March of 2011 that staved off financial failure. Interestingly enough, the loan is now part of an ethics probe. Apparently, Bright Source hired Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief of staff to lobby the administration for the loan.
* Solyndra - Founded in 2005 and bankrupt in August of 2011. Solyndra was considered for a US Dept of Energy Loan by the Bush Administration, but it was eventually unanimously declined. In March 2009, the US Dept of Energy approved a 527 million loan even though a budget analys stated that the project “This deal is not ready for prime time.” Solyndra received a 25 million dollar tax break from California. To help sales, in 2010, the IRS chipped in and gave an additional 30% tax credit for customers who installed 10,000 dollars worth of Solyndra panels.
* Azure Dynamics - In another case of good fortune, the DOE did not give a grant or loan to Azure Dynamics before it declared bankruptcy in the spring of 2012. The state of Michigan did give a 1.7 million dollar tax credit in 2009. Azure did receive a four year 112 million dollar contract from the Government Service Agency which allowed the military and government agencies to order the Transit Connect EV.
Related to this, Johnson Controls received a 299 millon dollar grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and 168.5 millions dollars in incentives from the state of Michigan to build a plant in Holland, MI. This plant was supposed to work in conjunction with Azure Dynamics to build electric vehicles. The bankruptcy unfortunately has caused a slow down in production at the plant and caused Johnson Controls to lose money that it invested in Azure Dynamics.
* Beacon Power - Beacon was founded in 1997 and went bankrupt in October of 2011. In 2009, Beacon received a 43 million dollar loan guarantee for the DOE. Beacon also received an additional 29 million dollars in grants from Pennsylvania and the US. As a side note, in Feb of 2012, Rockland Capital, a private equity group, bought most of the companies assets. As another aside, partner Joseph Lambeth of Rockland gave 20,000 to the DNC and Barack Obama in 2011.
* Abound Solar - Abound Solar received a 400 million dollar loan from the DOE in 2010. In declared bankruptcy in June of 2012. Forutnately for tax payers, it is reported that only 40 to 60 million dollars of the loan will be lost after the sale of assets. In 2010, President Obama praised the company in one of his speeches: “The second company is Abound Solar Manufacturing, which will manufacture advanced solar panels at two new plants, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.” Pat Stryker, one of the wealthiest 400 people in America, was a major back of the plant and a bundler for President Obama.
* Evergreen Solar - Founded in 1994, it went bankrupt in August of 2011. Evergreen received 58 million dollars in financial aid from the state of Massachusetts. After the bankruptcy, Evergreen was sued by the DOE in order to prevent it from selling patents to firms not based in the US. It is argued that these patents were developed between 2002 and 2005 using a 3 million dollar federal grant.
* Ener1 - Ener1 received a 118.5 million dollar grant from the DOE in 2010. The company declared bankruptcy in March of 2012. In January of 2011, Vice President Biden visited Ener1 in order to proclaim how successful it was.
* Uni-Solar - Uni-Solar received a 13.275 million dollar federal tax credit in January of 2010. Then, in June of 2012, Uni-Solar declared bankruptcy. In May of 2006, The Greenville City Council approved 45 millions dollars worth of incentives for Uni-Solar. These included tax breaks, grants, and employee training.
* Energy Conversion Devices - Another Michigan company declared bankruptcy in February of 2012. This company was a subsidiary of Uni-Solar. In the Spring of 2009, it did receive a 13.3 million dollar tax credit from the stimulus program and it was predicted that the company would create 600 new jobs. In order to save money, in August of 2010, it shipped 140 jobs from its Michigan factory to Mexico.
* A123 Systems - In August of 2009, A123 received 249 million dollar grant from the DOE. Part of the grant was used to refurbish plants in Livonia and Romulus MI. In November of 2011, 125 workers were laid off from these plants after A123 produced faulty batteries for another DOE grant recipient Fisker Automotive. The faulty batteries were quite the embarrassment since they prevent consumer reports from test a Fisker automobile. As of now, there is a 55 million dollar recall effort out by A123 to reclaim faulty batteries. The DOE grant was supposed to be completely used by the end of 2012, but the DOE has extended the period to the end of 2014. In 2011, A123 lost 257 million dollars in 2011, 152.6 million in 2010, and 85 million in 2009. At the start of 2010, A123’s stock price was over 20 per share. Now it is under 90 cents. It is currently being sued by a NY based law firm over inadequacies in disclosure related to the defective batteries.
Between 2008 up until now, executives from the company donated more than 22000 dollars to Barack Obama, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator John Kerry, and Representative Ed Markey while sending 1000 dollars to Scott Brown.
* Ecotality - In August of 2009, Ecotality received a 99.8 million dollar grant from the DOE. In June of 2010, it received another 15 million dollar grant from the DOE. Since June of 2010, Ecotatlity has been investigated by the SEC for stock issues, sued the state of California for working with NRG in building a competing network of charging stations. Ecotatlity turned it first ever profit in the first quarter of 2012, making 1.2 million dollars. The stock was valued at 34.80 in August of 2007. In July of 2012, it is valued at .47 per share.
* SunPower - The already financially troubled SunPower (800 million in debt) received a 1.2 billion dollar loan guarantee from the DOE in the spring of 2011. Shortly thereafter, it sold a 60% stake of itself to French Energy company Total, who then gave the company a 1 billion dollar credit line. The 1.2 billion dollar loan was to be used to create a solar power ranch. This was actually sold to NRG. The ranch is projected to create 15 full time jobs. Representative George Miller has stated that SunPower is a success after touring one of its plants. Mr Miller’s son works for the lobbying firm employed by SunPower. Interestingly enough, after the Solyendra scandal broke, someone at the DOE went back and scrubbed the website of references to SunPower.
The Obama Administration has stated over and over that each of these companies received funding based on merit. In the book “Throw Them All Out”, the author Peter Schweizer shows that 71% of the DOE grants and loans went to bundlers for Obama’s Presidential campaign, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party. The 71% raised 457,834 dollars for Obama and the Democratic Party and received 11.35 billion dollars in DOE handouts.