Skip to comments.Quit the outrage over Solyndra: Massive Obama scandal? There's no there there
Posted on 09/09/2012 10:29:21 AM PDT by presidio9
It was one year ago this month that the solar manufacturer Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, defaulting on a $535 million federal loan. The companys name has become Republican shorthand for crony capitalism and the lefts green lunacy.
But the Solyndra story is not a scandal. It is an inevitable bump on the road to a clean-energy economy. And almost everything Americans think they know about Solyndra is wrong.
For starters, this story has bipartisan roots. President George W. Bush signed the bill launching the Energy Departments loan program in 2005, and his administration selected Solyndra from 143 applicants for the first loan.
The deal almost closed during Bushs last month in Washington, but the departments career staff delayed it, saying the loan appears to have merit but wasnt quite ready. Bush aides had given so many assurances to Solyndras CEO that they apologized.
Solyndra was not some fly-by-night operation; it was once the toast of Silicon Valley. It had raised $1 billion from elite investors not just George Kaiser, an Obama bundler, but the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, Republican donors and the British mogul Richard Branson.
And its slogan, The New Shape of Solar, was more than marketing fluff. Most solar panels look like tinted windows. Solyndras looked like ladders for lizards. Most panels harvest sunlight with silicon wafers. Solyndras relied on a metal mixture called CIGS etched onto elongated glass cylinders. They were unusually expensive, but they clicked together like Legos, which made installation a breeze and helped keep down costs.
The loan program was designed to help companies like Solyndra cross the so-called Valley of Death for risky technologies. The goal was not only to create green jobs, but to reduce our dependence on foreign petro-thugs, our carbon emissions and our vulnerability to energy price shocks.
Helping Solyndra build a factory was expected to create 6,000 construction jobs, 1,800 permanent jobs and enough solar panels to replace a coal plant every year.
Matt Rogers, the Obama administration official who took over the loan program, says he never felt an iota of political pressure to approve Solyndra. Republicans later subpoenaed 300,000 pages of administration documents, and they never found any evidence of politics behind the decision to award the loan.
Solyndra built its factory on time and on budget, which helped reduce the cost of its panels. Its revenues soared, as it attracted customers like Frito-Lay.
But silicon got unexpectedly cheap, so Solyndras financials evoked the old joke about losing money on every sale and trying to make it up on volume. The company also made some strategic mistakes and ran out of cash before a new management team could turn things around. Eventually, the Energy Department withdrew its lifeline.
But all lenders make bad loans. Obamas stimulus package reserved $2.5 billion for Solyndra-style busts. A review led by a Republican financier found that the portfolio which includes the worlds largest wind farm, a half dozen of the worlds largest solar farms and Americas first cellulosic biofuel refineries is doing fine.
Overall, the stimulus poured $90 billion into clean energy, when the U.S. had been spending just a few billion a year, and its launched a quiet green revolution. Weve doubled renewable power; with help from the low silicon prices that killed Solyndra, solar installations have soared 600%. The stimulus has jump-started the smart electric grid and created a new domestic battery industry for electric vehicles.
It wont all pan out thats the nature of investment. Obama is betting on clean energy, putting public dollars into thousands of firms that can help move us away from fossil fuels. The market is picking the winners and losers, and Solyndra was one of the losers. But theres nothing scandalous about that.
It should also be noted that the writer employs three other time-honored liberal instruments:
He overstates the benefits of his preferred government intervention. No adult believes that solar can offer any more than 8-10% of our total power needs at any time in the forseeable future.
He implies that because the right is opposed to government intervention, they are opposed to alternative energe. Hasn't bothered to read Romney's platform, I guess.
Finally, when all else fails, he brings it right back to George Bush, who may have supported green energy initiatives, but was clearly not willing to throw good money after bad.
More like an IED.
Why, all one has to do is look at history. Look at the huge Gov’t loans that Ford had to acquire to start his automobile company, or the huge loans that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had to take to start their computer companies. Look at the huge Govt’ loans required to start the bio-med expansions, the huge loans that the Wright Brothers had to undertake to make flight a reality.
Funny ... they didn’t take any loans to get their ideas to take off. If pretty much every company on the face of the planet found economic success without the Gov’t propping them up - why do Green companies require it? Perhaps every other company had an economically viable product?
Sorry Skippy, $535 million of taxpayer dollars in the toilet is a lot of THERE, THERE! Jackass.
But one little steel company that didn’t make it despite Bain Capital’s best efforts makes Romney a murderer in Obama’s TV ads...and Romney was using private money, not taxpayer money!
This Grunwald is married to Maggie Grunwald, a far-Left msm fixture. It figures that they are all trying to rewrite Obama’s crony scendals.
But the Solyndra story is not a scandal. It is an inevitable bump on the road to a clean-energy economy.
Don’t mind the man behind the curtain. 2 + 2 = 5. The sky is pink. Pigs fly.
Cheap empty words do not tell the true story.
He forgot the point about Obama ensuring the loan went to a solid donor to his campaign. He forgot that Obama made sure that the US govt was last on the list of people to be paid out in a bankruptcy, despite being the source of all the funding. This ensured OTHER campaign donors in that industry could walk away clean.
This is sooooo much more than a loan to a company that just didnt work out.
And as for “helping tech companies cross death valley” to get started and help free us from petro-thugs. Let me hip you. IF we drilled here without limits, that would free us from them faster than anything else imaginable. Furthermore, what solyindra sold did not make any economic sense except in a world of government induced artifically high energy prices.
Obastard is killing coal everywhere he can find it. He fights fracking for shale gas. He does everything he can to make prices “neccessarily skyrocket”. In a world with no government whatsoever, if oil and gas and coal became scarce, the prices of those would rise naturally. At some point on the curve, Solyndra would suddenly find that their technology was profitable, and their business would take off.
Solyndra was a scam. Artificially created need, and fed by free government cash, and all for the benefit of democrat supporters and vote buying. Case closed.
Safer to invest with a long lost Nigerian uncle who just needs your bank account number to make deposits.
Grunwald? I stopped reading right there.
and the investment should have stayed with "elite investors" or other non-government investors. Most new products fail in the market place and throwing government politics into the mix corrupts the process making success even less likely. It's a good case study in why "government didn't build that".
I suspect similar ripoffs are happening all over the place.
Here is a story from a neighboring township that took on the cost of asbestos cleanup for a planned ethanol project (Nearly a half million total) and now the company (NextGen) isn’t answering the phone.
No realistic adult who has looked at the date would expect solar to supply more than 1% of the nations energy supply.
The only place that solar makes economic sense is in areas where it is too expensive to run an electric transmission line.
Even if you can not reasonably run a transmission line to your site it is still more than likely cheaper to have your own diesel generator (and more reliable unless your weather is unusually good).
With out government subsidies solar can not possibly compete with conventional electric generation technology.
Solar is a nitch technology good for powering calculators, watches and phone charges and not much else.
These writers are not journalists. They are LIARS. If they succeed in getting Obama re-elected, I sincerely hope that every single one of them become the first economic casualties of Obama’s second term. Me? I’m dropping out of the work force. I’ve been working 40 years and refuse to continue to bust my a$$ to support Obama’s deadbeats.
Time magazine ecochondriac, say no more, say no more.
I am sick of these “Walter Concrete-head” commie media types who seem to think they’re the Intelligentsia and the rest of us are just rude, crude, stupid, and socially unacceptable. - “Concrete-head” mocked and ridiculed Pat
Robertson for witnessing for Christ as the returning Messiah, the only capable Ruler of the Coming Kingdom of God.
The standard for Obama: Look at the portfolio, not just one investment.
The standard for Romney: Don’t look at the portfolio, pick out one investment to look at.
With regard to Solyndra, the pay-off was the legal fees paid to the lawyers who had invested heavily in the Obama campaign. That money was skimmed off the top of the loan guarantees and not recovered.
With regard to companies in which Bain Capital lost money (and workers lost jobs), it was their money they lost, not the taxpayers’ money. In contrast, Solyndra execs lost other peoples money.
With regard to Bush, this is a delicate issue. In hindsight, he sold us - movement conservatives and libertarians - a bill of goods.
Bush, along with others, shares in responsibility for huge deficits, the TARP, the housing bubble, and boondoggles such as subsides to so-called renewable energy.
Bush is to Obama what Hoover was to FDR, the John the Baptist of a socialist Messiah.
It is not clear where Romney stands on the Bush legacy. Hopefully, he is smart enough to move on from that agenda.
Sure. Got it.
I guess political thievery and influence peddling is OK now - if you are the "right" sort of people and have the "right" connections? Frankly, this used to be referred to as "graft" and "bribery" and people went to jail for it!
But, that was long, long ago in a country now unfamiliar and far, far away...
LMFAO @ Michael Grunwald! Nice try for a liberal hack. However, losing $535 million of taxpayers money may not be a lot to you among $16 TRILLION, but the loss is still “there”. And that’s not a good thing no matter how it’s spun.
You can’t have a scandal if the press won’t give it press.
At the time the Energy Department was considering the loan, however, an Office of Management and Budget analysis suggested that Solyndra could run out of money in 2011 and said that it had a 20 percent chance of failing, which was actually well below some successful loans. An Energy Department official told Grunwald, When I heard they got the first loan, I thought, oh, no! Noooooooo.
Grunwald's response, though, would be that a lot of Washingtonians, Republican as well as Democrat, were pushing for loans for their own pet energy project.
The response to that would be that this was the one that went through and lost money. That's a lot more serious than projects that aren't adopted and don't cost the taxpayers anything.
FWIW, I wanted to find out if Michael Grunwald was related to legendary Timesman Henry Anatole Grunwald. I didn't, but Clintonista Mandy Grunwald was the old man's daughter.
Not the truth, Skippy. They didn't approve it because the GAO predicted that Solyndra would go bankrupt and it did almost exactly when predicted. It was guaranteed to fail and 0bungles dumped over half a billion dollars into it anyway.
You have two ways to explain that. Either 0bama is a complete moron or there was a quid pro quo.
I guess everyone is going to call him Skippy. LOL
Lordy this guy needs a fact checker. He is spinning the WH lines as if they are real. Bush’s DOE had decided not to go ahead with Solyndra which is why the head honchos there started pimping themselves to O and company. From the initial premise onward this guy is just plain nuts
And don't forget the government filling stations for cars when they first became available. Greedy private companies couldn't be counted on to build the needed infrastructure; government had to do it. </sarcasm>
Many moons ago, in Alabama there was a state treasurer, seem to recall her name as Melba “watching the till” Allen (Melba Till Allen) who was defended by the dem machine (southern dems at the time) by saying:
“She didn’t take no STATE (of Alabama) money!!”
ie. it was ok to skim off the feds, no matter what.
This is the same thing—done nationally, for obamao re-elect. Stimulus slush.
I had it sort of right. This was along similar lines as this Solyndra, at the State of Alabama level, having to do with a state sponsored attraction Stars over Alabama. Melba Allen was skimming money from banks she put the funds into, and got loans back from banks for her husbands and her personal use, in exchange.
The point was attempted to be made at her various trials that “no state money was lost” by doing this. An early version of the assumption that any money “belongs to the state”, and that the banks money was someone else’s money.
It is a wild read but I found a blog (not mine) on the history, and think it is also at wikipedia:
A BILLION DOLLARS TO A COMPANY WHOSE TECHNOLOGY WAS JUNK AND WHO WENT TO THE OBAMA WHITE TO GET LOANS SIGNED OFF, AND WHO OBAMA TOUTED.
And its slogan, The New Shape of Solar, was more than marketing fluff. “
It was marketing fluff. solar cells are flat because that geometry is best for creating energy, and the process is cheaper. Solyndra was more expensive and less energy efficient. It was junk.
Government has no business picking winners and losers because too often they pick losers.
The ny daily news has been quite silent on many things that make obama look bad. Solyndra, fast and furious, etc. Now that they finally mention it, its only to declare that its much ado about nothing.
Let’s stomp a little on Mr. Grunwald with this:
Solar IS good if TSHTF.
Mikie took his wifie’s last name?
It was inevitable the Solyndra spin would have to come soon:
here it comes from a “journalist” from a “major” NYC newspaper. Lots of fancy footwork and spin emanating from this article , lots of straw man arguments. At the supermarket today, I saw the new issue of TIME with a picture of Obama , wearing his characteristic broadly beaming yet somewhat “sheepish” smile, looking downward, with the big title: WHAT BARACK KNOWS NOW. Two years ago at least, I posted on FR to the effect that the spin we could expect in the second half of the O Administration would be along the lines of “The Education of Barack Obama”, as if the Presidency in his first term merely served as his apprenticeship to being President “for Real”. That is now what is upon us: the expectation that we have to see through another four years for him, so his “education” could be complete. Four years from now, we’re expected to grant our approval “Barack Obama, you are the most IMPROVED President we’ve ever had!”
WHAT. A. FARCE.
Thank you. Great analysis! Should be required reading.
One point I’d add
>>It is an inevitable bump on the road to a clean-energy economy.
I can’t stand the way leftist writers casually throw in words like “inevitable” and get away with it. This is psychologically designed to make the reader overlook and accept it. Nothing to see here. Move along. Just business as usual. No different from any other business.
Furthermore, what is “inevitable?” Solyndra itself? Or the fact that some companies fail?
Most of us who start companies do not get the sweetheart deals that Solyndra got. Most of us sink or swim on our own. Most of us do not live a life of luxury on the taxpayer dime while running a company into the ground and then leave with our bank accounts much fatter than when we started.
One thing that I’d like some help understanding is the life expectancy of the Solyndra “ladders for lizards” and their cost effectiveness. Say I’m the COO of a small manufacturing firm. Let’s put it somewhere outside of Phoenix to make this a fair argument. Say I choose to install the Solyndra panels. At what point, if ever, do I recoup my investment? Or will the reward my shareholders get be the warm feeling that they have contributed to future technological advancements that may one day make solar sort of competitive (and in the mean time helped fund the salaries of the people who choose to work in a negative profit industry)?
I guess everyone is going to call him Skippy. LOL
Maybe you want to rethink that nickname. Skippy's best friend and mentor was a Reaganite.
“bump in the road”
= Obama speak as in, The tsunami in Japan was “a bump in the road.” The writer is merely revealing he’s an Obamanoid.
OK. We could call him Fizzle then. I bet his wife has.
Exactly. How many trillions in an 'inevitable'?!
Without the government subsidies you never will.
With the subsidies I believe you break even in about fifteen years.
What is not taken in to account in these figures is that the panels must be maintained by the owner. Weekly cleaning to keep the panels working at top efficiency could impact your bottom line.
It must be kept in mind that the panels do have a limited life span and loose efficiency over time.