Monday, February 27, 2012

I Hope We Live To Tell The Tale

Shout,  shout
Let it all out
These are the things
I can do without
Come on
—Tears for Fears, Shout

With all the recent obsession over condoms, you may have missed this one, which I suspect is exactly how the Dems hoped it would play.  That's OK; I've got your back on these things.

But let's keep our eye on the ball.  

Week before last, the L.A. Times recounted the tale of the Genesis Solar Project, a huge solar farm being constructed in a Southern California desert.  Genesis received a partial Department of Energy guarantee on an $852 million loan back in August.

Don’t look now, but there’s trouble in green energy paradise.  Again.

Construction of the farm has yet to be completed, and at this point is held up indefinitely.  It seems in their rush to meet deadlines imposed as a condition of their DOE loan guarantee, planners missed a couple of things.  One, construction activities interfered with the native habitat of something called the kit fox.  Dead foxes started turning up all over the site, and after efforts to harass the animals into moving—where’s PETA when you need them—failed, it was determined that distemper brought about by the construction disturbances was killing the foxes off.  So, in essence, this “green energy” project is in fact creating an environmental problem.

I’m drowning in the irony of that one.

The other—likely more serious—problem in terms of the project’s ability to go forward is that  excavators discovered that the farm is being constructed on the site of an ancient human settlement.  The Colorado River Indian Tribes have a reservation near the site, and they, along with other Native American groups, are now seeking to delay or even stop the project altogether.  Meanwhile, the project stands incomplete and generating no revenue.  If they have to cut too much acreage out in order to accommodate the Indian and environmental concerns, the project will become—wait for it—uneconomical.


This, of course, is just the latest in the constantly growing string of disasters flowing from the Obama administration’s Quixotic quest to create an industry that does not exist, to provide products no one wants, at a price no one will pay.  Let’s review.

Solyndra—Bankrupt, August 2011

Of course, the poster child for the green energy train wreck is Solyndra, the California-based manufacturer of solar panels, over 1/3 owned by Obama mega-fundraiser George Kaiser.  Solyndra was the first to receive “green energy” startup loan guarantees from the Department of Energy, netting $535 million in a deal that was rushed through over the objections of financial analysts.  The DOE restructured that debt in early 2011 to move taxpayers behind the private equity holders like Kaiser in the creditor queue.  After there simply wasn’t enough market demand for its product, Solyndra declared bankruptcy in August 2011—almost to the day that the financial analysts who objected to the loan said it wouldand later sold its assets on the cheap to a new outfit also partly owned by Kaiser.  So basically the President's buddies got to finance their startup with taxpayer money, moved to the front of the line to get their own money out when it went belly-up, then took the assets for pennies on the dollar, leaving the rest of us stuck with the check.

Ener1—Bankrupt, January 2012

Ener1 was a New York-based parent company of a firm that received $118 million in federal “stimulus” grants to produce electric car batteries in part for the Fisker Karma (see below), a deal that ultimately fell through.  Ener1 filed for bankruptcy last month.

UPDATE 2/27/12:  No sooner did I post this, than I see that A123, who won the Karma contract out from under Ener1 on the strength of some $390 million in federal subsidies, is laying workers off, despite hefty pay increases for its executives.

Beacon Power—Bankrupt, October 2011

Beacon was a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of energy storage technology.  It received $43 million in Department of Energy loans.  Beacon declared bankruptcy in October 2011, saying it had been unable to obtain additional private investment (one wonders why).  It received bankruptcy court approval in December to begin selling off its assets.

Evergreen Solar—Bankrupt, August 2011/Now owned by the Chinese

Evergreen was a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of solar panels.  It received government grants including an estimated $5.3 million in federal “stimulus” money.  Evergreen went bankrupt in August 2011, and in November sold its assets to a Chinese firm.

Spectrawatt—Bankrupt, August 2011/Now owned by the Canadians

Spectrawatt was a New York-based manufacturer of silicon cells used in solar panels.  It received It received $500,000 in “stimulus” grants in June 2009.  Spectrawatt filed for bankruptcy in August 2011, and was bought by a Canadian firm.

Sunpower—Insolvency/Layoffs, November 2011/Now owned by the French

Sunpower, yet another California-based solar firm, received a $1.2 billion DOE loan in September 2011, the very last days of the program.  Barely a month later, it announced hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, and that it was “reorganizing” and cutting jobs.  It is now owned by the French oil giant Total, without whose backing, it would be bankrupt.

Amonix—Layoffs, January 2012

Amonix was a California-based solar systems manufacturer with a plant in Nevada.  It was partly owned by John Doerr, Daniel Weiss, and Steve Westly, who collectively have bundled at least $700,000 for Obama.  Amonix received $5.9 million in federal “stimulus” grants in 2010.  Last month it announced it was laying off two-thirds of its workforce.

Nevada Geothermal—Insolvent, October 2011

Nevada Geothermal, as the name suggests, is a Nevada-based geothermal energy company that received $66 million in federal grants, and another $79 million in DOE loans; loans it immediately used to pay off or renegotiate other loans that were or were about to be in default.  In other words, the company was already insolvent, a fact apparently known to the Obama administration at the time the DOE made the loans.  According to the DOE website, this project created 14 permanent jobs.

Fisker Automotive—Layoffs, February 2012

As I have previously reported, Fisker Automotive is a California-based manufacturer of luxury electric cars.  It received a $529 million DOE loan to produce its $102,000 Karma, which it manufactures in Finland.  After producing—then recalling—a grand total of 239 units, Fisker announced earlier this month that it was laying off employees in its Delaware and California locations, despite miraculous and unverifiable DOE claims that the loan had “created or saved” 2000 jobs.

Remember back when it was all about focusing on the economy and creating jobs?  These projects include five bankruptcies, one insolvency and one about to go under if it can’t resume construction, three laying people off, three now owned by foreign parents, and one manufacturing its product—to the extent it does so at all—overseas.  They represent a total federal investment of about $2.5 billion, and leaving aside temporary construction, appear to have added only 14 permanent U.S. jobs (without deducting for layoffs and bankruptcies), a clip of about $178 million per job.  Contrast that with the Keystone XL pipeline project Obama rejected (claiming it needed more study), which would unquestionably have created tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and not cost the federal taxpayer one red cent.

In a funny coincidence, with one exception (Nevada Geothermal—you work that one out) every one of these debacles involves federal money going to firms based in California, New York, or Massachusetts, huge chunks of it to big Obama backers.

I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

With this objective record on this issue alone, for the life of me I can’t understand how this President continues to net an approval rating as high as the 45% he’s been hovering around for months.  The level of incompetency is both obviously demonstrable, and staggering.  Worse, I can’t believe the GOP isn’t keeping this on the front burner and getting this message before the American public.  I’m aware of it, and now you’re aware of it, but Joe Six Pack isn’t, and he’s the one who matters.

This, and the force-feeding of Obamacare, should be the centerpiece of the campaign.  I hope the GOP gets around to telling this story soon, or it’ll be too late.

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