a spokesman for the Energy Department said that agency has dozens of programs that funded over 1,300 companies in the renewable energy space.Amazing number right? How much money was wasted? How many other companies went bust and other energy sources were ignored because of this unfair competition?
Surprised that the government is wasting your money and investing in the worst possible assets? You shouldn't. The aim is not to return any money on the investment, is to buy votes and enrich the select few who are close to those corrupt politicians running these programs.
Here are some of the companies that went bust or made negative headlines:
A123: The battery maker received a $249 million
Department of Energy stimulus grant to build two factories in Michigan
to manufacture batteries for electric cars.
The company drew down $132 million of that grant, and the factories are up and running, according to the DOE.
As part of A123's bankruptcy announced earlier this week, the factories were sold to Johnson Controls, which is expected to keep them open. Since the investment was a grant, the government got no money back. It's unclear whether Johnson will be eligible to draw down the remaining grant funds.
- Abound Solar: The manufacturer of thin-film solar
panels received a $400 million DOE stimulus loan guarantee to build two
factories -- one outside Kokomo, Indiana and another outside of Denver.
Abound drew down $70 million of the grant to build the Denver factory. Abound declared bankruptcy in June amid strong competition and the collapsing price of solar panels.
Its assets are being auctioned off, and DOE is expected to lose to $40 to $60 million on the deal.
- Beacon Power: The company received a $43 million
DOE stimulus loan guarantee to build a facility in upstate New York that
uses flywheels to store extra energy from the power grid, and then
release it when needed. Such technology is seen as essential to
integrate wind and solar into the grid, as those sources don't produce
The company spent $39 million to build the project, which consists of wheels inside vacuum tubes that can spin at near perpetual motion. Beacon went bankrupt amid low prices for natural gas, which can be burned to produce electricity.
The flywheel plant was sold to a competitor, and DOE is slated to receive at least $27 million in the deal.
- Ener1: A subsidiary of the
company, EnerDel, received an $118.5 million grant to build two plants
outside Indianapolis to manufacture batteries for electric cars and
Ener1 declared bankruptcy in January, and the company was bought by a Russian investor. The plants in Indianapolis continue to make batteries.
- Solyndra: The manufacturer of advanced solar panels received a $535 million loan guarantee to build a factory outside of San Francisco.
Solyndra went bankrupt in 2011 amid falling prices for solar panels, and has since served as the poster child for well-meaning government policy gone bad.
Its assets are being auctioned off, and DOE is not expected to recover any meaningful amount of money.
- Fisker Automotive: The electric car maker
received a $529 million DOE-backed stimulus loan to design a mid-priced
model and build a factory to manufacture the vehicle in Delaware.
In February, Fisker put the manufacture of the sedan on hold amid lower than expected demand for electric cars and announced layoffs, though still says it plans on building the car in 2014. The company has drawn down about $200 million of the loan.
- Nevada Geothermal Power: The firm received a $98 million DOE-backed loan to build a geothermal power plant north of Reno. According to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, an internal audit of the firm revealed $98 million in net losses and significant debt. DOE says the power plant the loan built has a long-term agreement to sell electricity, and its investment will be protected no matter what happens to the parent company.
Another publicly subsidized green company is going under, this one -- called ReVolt Technology -- backed in Portland by city and state taxpayers.
Losses on ReVolt are tiny compared to those at Solyndra Inc., the notorious California solar company that tanked after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee. Portland and the state of Oregon had committed $6.8 million to ReVolt, which also landed a $5 million federal grant.
But the timing of ReVolt's demise is awkward ahead of the Nov. 6 election for Democrats, who have plugged renewable-energy companies in the face of Republican criticism.
Oregon Democrats who lavished praise on ReVolt as it acquired funds and chose a site in 2010 include U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Tobias Read, of Beaverton, former U.S. Rep. David Wu and former Gov. Ted Kulongoski. Portland Mayor Sam Adams was also a strong supporter.