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Solyndra’s Creditors Include California Democratic Party October 1, 2011

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , 1 comment so far

Among the roughly 5,000 creditors named by Solyndra, a bankrupt solar energy company that is under investigation for losing a half billion dollars in federal loans, is the California Democratic Party, which says it doesn’t know why.

The bankruptcy filing doesn’t say why the organization is listed as one of the creditors or how much money it is owed. The filing contains about 200 pages of creditors listed in alphabetical order with their address but not the amount owed.

Tenoch Flores, the communications director for the California Democratic Party, told FoxNews.com that he wasn’t sure why the organization was named a creditor since the California-based company didn’t owe it any money. 

But he said there’s likely a procedural explanation, such as Solyndra providing a list of all potential creditors, including organizations and companies that ever received a payment or contribution for any purpose.

Solyndra did not respond to requests for comment.

Solyndra gave $7,500 to the party last October, according to campaign-finance records reviewed by The Washington Times, which first reported the listing. Solyndra employees also donated $20,800 to federal candidates and committees since 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that amount, 72 percent went to Democrats, 27 percent to Republicans and 1 percent to Libertarians.

President Obama was the top beneficiary of that campaign cash, receiving $2,800, CRP said.

Solyndra has come under investigations by the FBI and Congress since it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1,100 employees.

Congressional Republicans are investigating the $528 million loan Solyndra received from the Energy Department in 2009. Solyndra’s top executives pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than a dozen times Friday in a congressional hearing.

Solyndra was back in bankruptcy court in Delaware Tuesday morning to reportedly seek permission to sell its state-of-the-art factory that was built with the federal loan.

Solyndra was the first renewable energy company to receive a loan guarantee — before the direct loans — under a stimulus-law program to encourage green energy and was frequently touted by the Obama administration as a model of success. President Obama visited the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters last year, and Vice President Biden spoke by satellite at its groundbreaking ceremony.

Since then, the company’s implosion and revelations that the administration rushed Office of Management and Budget officials to finish their review of the loan in time for the September 2009 groundbreaking has become an embarrassment and headache for Obama as he tries to pitch his new $450 billion jobs plan.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other top economic advisers raised red flags to the president in late October 2010 about the selection process for the federal loan guarantees, arguing that the lack of rigor increased the risk that fund could be going to the wrong companies, including ones that didn’t need the help.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the president needs to explain himself.

“The president’s been silent about this debacle so far but with this news, I think that it’s time for President Obama to do what he does best, which is to start talking,” Priebus said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters.

“He owes the American people an explanation of how he’s going to get their money back and how he’ll prevent it from happening again in yet another failed Stimulus 2.0 attempt that he’s trying to sell in Denver today,” he said.

Source by Fox News

Solyndra Not Sole Firm to Hit Rock Bottom Despite Stimulus Funding September 15, 2011

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Solyndra, the solar panel company whose highly publicized failure and consequent investigation by federal authorities has flashed across headlines recently, isn’t the only business to go belly up after benefiting from a piece of the $800 billion economic stimulus package passed in 2009.

At least four other companies have received stimulus funding only to later file for bankruptcy, and two of those were working on alternative energy.

Evergreen Solar Inc., indirectly received $5.3 million through a state grant to open a $450 million facility in 2007 that employed roughly 800 people. The company, once a rock star in the solar industry, filed for bankruptcy protection last month, saying it couldn’t compete with Chinese rivals without reorganizing. The company intends to focus on building up its manufacturing facility in China.
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SpectraWatt, based in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., is also a solar cell company that was spun out of Intel in 2008. In June 2009, SpectraWatt received a $500,000 grant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as part of the stimulus package. SpectraWatt was one of 13 companies to receive the money to help develop ways to improve solar cells without changing current manufacturing processes.

The company filed for bankruptcy last month, saying it could not compete with its Chinese competitors, which receive “considerable government and financial support.”

On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman wrote an editorial for “USA Today” in which he blamed China in part for the failure of U.S. solar energy manufacturers to compete.

“Winning will require substantial investments. Last year, for example, the China Development Bank offered more than $30 billion in financing to Chinese solar manufacturers, about 20 times more than U.S.-backed loans to solar manufacturers,” Poneman wrote.

“Unfortunately, expanding production has coincided with short-term softening demand, a product of the banking crisis in Europe and its wider economic effects. The combination has had a dramatic effect on the price of solar cells, which has plummeted 42 percent in the past nine months. This has taken a serious toll on solar manufacturers everywhere, including the U.S,” he continued.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney noted that the U.S. is on track to double its renewable energy production in 2012, but it will require commitment in the U.S. to grow.

“We have a choice to make as a nation, because we will be buying renewable energy products, you know, whether it’s wind, biofuel, solar, whether alternative — rather, you know, advanced battery technology, we’re going to be buying that stuff. Do we want to buy it with a stamp on it that says ‘Made in America’ or are we going to buy it from the Chinese or from other countries?” Carney asked.

“We have to be aggressive in competing in the global economy. And, you know, high-tech clean-energy industries are going to be key to winning this century economically.”

But Republicans balk at claims that the Obama administration can decide which companies are winners or losers, and questioned a plan to approve $10 billion more in loans before the stimulus program expires.

“Solar panels have been subsidized by the federal government. States’ governments are also subsidizing or giving taxpayers write-off on their tax return. And yet, these solar panels cannot make it in the competitive world without all these subsidies. And even with them, China is flooding the market with this cheap labor and the solar panels just don’t make sense,” House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns R-Fla., told Fox News.

“So I think the administration is on this fervent religion of green jobs and clinging to the idea that solar panel is the answer and it is not the answer,” he said.

Another winner of stimulus who ultimately lost is Mountain Plaza Inc. Despite declaring bankruptcy in 2003, the company received $424,000 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation as part of a grant aimed at installing “truck stop electrification” systems that allow idling truckers to plug-in during extended stops and turn off their exhaust-belching, environment polluting diesel engines.

Mountain Plaza had filed for bankruptcy protection again in June 2010. TDOT, which received a $2 million stimulus grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for the project, said it didn’t learn about the bankruptcy until October, but it is closely monitoring the project.

Elsewhere, Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Co. also failed despite Olsen’s Mills receiving $10 million to increase employment, add equipment and machinery, refinance existing debts and work capital for operations and acquire land. The payout — part of a $64 million package to nine rural businesses in Wisconsin for economic development loan assistance — was delivered in January 2010, after Olsen’s Mills filed for bankruptcy protection for defaulting on a $60 million bank loan.

Solar Company That Obama Once Touted Shuts Down September 3, 2011

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President Barack Obama, with Solyndra Chief Executive Officer Chris Gronet, looks at a solar panel, during a tour of Solyndra, Inc., a solar panel manufacturing facility, in Fremont, Calif.

A California solar-panel manufacturer once touted by President Obama as a beneficiary of his administration’s economic policies — as well as a half-billion-dollar federal loan — is laying off 1,100 workers and filing for bankruptcy.

Solyndra LLC of Fremont, Calif., had become the poster child for government investment in green technology. The president visited the company in May 2010 and noted that Solyndra expected to hire 1,000 workers to manufacture solar panels. Other state and federal officials such as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Energy Secretary Steven Chu also visited the company’s facilities.

But hard times have hit the nation’s solar industry. Solyndra is the third solar company to seek bankruptcy protection this month. Officials said Wednesday that the global economy as well as unfavorable conditions in the solar industry combined to force the company to suspend its manufacturing operations.

The price for solar panels has tanked in part because of heavy competition from Chinese companies, dropping by about 42 percent this year.

Republicans have been looking into the Solyndra loan for months. The House Energy and Commerce Committee subpoenaed documents relating to the loan from the White House Office of Management and Budget. GOP Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida issued a joint statement on Wednesday saying it was clear that Solyndra was a dubious investment.

“We smelled a rat from the onset,” the two lawmakers said.

Shortly after the company’s announcement, it became clear that the bankruptcy would serve as further ammunition to criticize an economic stimulus bill that provided seed money for solar startups — even though officials said interest in providing Solyndra with guaranteed government loans was first sought under the Bush administration.

Upton and Stearns said they would continue to seek documents that would provide more details about the Solyndra loan.

“Unfortunately, Solyndra is just the latest casualty of the Obama administration’s failed stimulus, emblematic of an economic policy that has not worked and will not work. We hope this informs the president ahead of his address to Congress next week,” the GOP lawmakers said.

When Obama, who is seeking to address Congress to unveil a new jobs plan, toured the company’s facilities, he said the investment was important because more clean energy would benefit the environment, the economy and national security.

“The future is here,” Obama said during his visit. “We’re poised to transform the ways we power our homes and our cars and our businesses. … And we are poised to generate countless new jobs, good-paying, middle-class jobs, right here in the United States of America.”

In a blog posting, Energy Department spokesman Dan Leistikow said Solyndra was a once promising company that had increased sales revenue by 2,000 percent in the past three years. The $535 million loan guarantee was sought by both the Bush and Obama administrations, he said, and private investors also put more than $1 billion into Solyndra.

“We have always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed, but we can’t stop investing in game-changing technologies that are key to America’s leadership in the global economy,” Leistikow said.

Solyndra was heralded as one of the nation’s bright spots of green technology innovation, creating a solar tube of sorts that could soak up sunlight from many different angles, producing energy more efficiently and using less space. The company’s panels were also light and easy to install, which was meant to save up front costs.

But over the past few years, other companies caught up and provided similar products at a lower cost.

Brian Harrison, Solynda’s president and CEO, said that raising capital became impossible.

“This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate,” Harrison said in a statement.

Another solar company, Spectrawatt Inc. of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 19. Its CEO said in the filing that it could not compete with solar manufacturers in China, which receive “considerable government and financial support.”

Spectrawatt’s filing came four days after Evergreen Solar Inc. of Marlboro, Mass., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Solar industry advocates said the failure of these three companies is not indicative of the health of the U.S. solar industry as a whole and that overall the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program has been a success.

“In the last 18 months, solar companies have either added or expanded almost 60 factories in the U.S. and driven the installed cost of solar down by 30 percent,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“To date, solar projects that have received loan guarantees will help to deploy enough clean solar energy to power nearly 1 million homes and create tens of thousands of jobs across 28 states,” he said.

Jesse Pichel, a clean energy analyst with New York-based investment firm Jefferies & Co. said Solyndra’s products used unique technology that was more expensive to install, “and the improvement was marginal at best.”