Solargate is just the tip of the iceberg.
This cliché within a mixed metaphor reflects the madness of President Obama’s obsession with “green jobs.” It would be bad enough if this disaster were limited to possible criminality at Solyndra — the solar-panel maker that Obama stimulated with loan guarantees, despite repeated warnings about its rickety finances.
“The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra,” Obama proclaimed
at its Fremont, Calif., headquarters on May 26, 2010. Not quite. Solyndra
’s August 31 bankruptcy
transformed 1,100 green jobs into pink slips and marinated taxpayers in $527 million of red ink.
But many green-jobs programs that have not been raided by the FBI — as Solyndra was last September 8 — nonetheless are fiscally reckless enough to merit a five-alarm national scandal.
Consider these other green bankruptcies:
SpectraWatt, Inc., of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., scored $500,000 from the Energy Department in June 2009 and $150,000 from the National Science Foundation in June 2010, Bloomberg reports. Last August 19, the solar-power company went bust.
Evergreen Solar was stimulated with $5.3 million of Massachusetts government cash and praised by the White House for helping to “kickstart the economy.” Evergreen went bankrupt last August 15.
Mountain Plaza, Inc., went bankrupt in 2003. Nonetheless, its “truck-stop electrification” technology won $424,000 in EPA stimulus funds administered by Tennessee’s transportation department. Yet again, Mountain Plaza filed for bankruptcy in June 2010.
Notwithstanding its February 2009 bankruptcy and default on a $58 million loan from BNP Paribas, Wisconsin-based Olsen’s Mill Acquisition was stimulated with $10 million in January 2010, along with Olsen’s Crop Services. Jeff Bollier of the OshKosh Northwestern reported that Olsen’s Mill “buys crops grown by farmers across the eastern and central parts of Wisconsin and sells it to end users such as Utica Energy’s ethanol plant on State Highway 91.” ADM purchased the defunct operation’s assets last month.
Beyond outright bankruptcies, Team Obama has subsidized projects that may be neither fraudulent nor failed, per se, but severely abuse taxpayers:
As the Wall Street Journal reports, cash-strapped Americans are changing babies’ diapers less frequently and doubling down on diaper-rash ointment. What a perfect time for Team Obama to subsidize foreign solar companies! Energy last June 18 gave Solar Trust, an American subsidiary of Germany’s Solar Millennium, a $2.1 billion loan guarantee for a Blythe, Calif., solar-power facility. Last June, Energy handed Spain’s Abengoa Solar a $1.2 billion guarantee for its Mojave (Calif.) Solar Project and backstoppped $1.45 billion last December for Abengoa’s Gila Bend, Ariz., outpost.
On September 28, Energy approved a $737 million loan guarantee for Nevada’s SolarReserve Project. It promises 600 construction jobs at $1.23 million each and 45 permanent jobs at $16.4 million per position. Energy also guaranteed $337 million for Sempra Energy’s Mesquite Solar Project in Arizona. Its 300 construction jobs cost $1.12 million each, while its seven permanent positions equal $48.1 million per job created. The only good news here is that this program ended September 30. So its damage is done.
In Seattle, an Energy grant provided $20 million to weatherize homes. Sixteen months later, this outlay has generated 14 administrative jobs at $1.42 million apiece. How many homes have been retrofitted? Three.
Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program has fared better in Toledo, Kansas City, and Phoenix. In those locales, $65 million has underwritten 72 jobs. That comes to $902,777 each. Overall, this initiative has spent $508 million in 41 states and “created or saved” 600 jobs — a real bargain at $846,666 apiece.