- Posted July 9, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
"Twice As Bad As Solyndra"?
Could there yet be another scandal ready to hit the headlines and top the evening news involving President Barack Obama and the Department of Energy in their continuing botch of overseeing and funding green energy companies? Or is the story too old to matter to news sources and to taxpayers?
Solyndra has moved out of the spotlight, but there is another company that received over $800 billion from DOE. This would seem to dwarf the Solyndra scandal in which taxpayers lost a half billion dollars.
And yet we have heard nothing about this. To compound the issue, all this happened back in 2009-2011 with nothing popping up in the various news feeds.
How much has the DOE squandered on questionable green energy companies?
Here's from the article in Human Events from November, 2011:
How did a failing California solar company, buffeted by short sellers and shareholder lawsuits, receive a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee for a photovoltaic electricity ranch project-three weeks after it announced it was building new manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico, to build the panels for the project.
The company, SunPower (SPWR-NASDAQ), now carries $820 million in debt, an amount $20 million greater than its market capitalization. If SunPower was a bank, the feds would shut it down. Instead, it received a lifeline twice the size of the money sent down the Solyndra drain.
Two men with insight into the process are SunPower rooter Rep. George R. Miller III, (D.-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee and the co-chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and his SunPower lobbyist son, George Miller IV.
Miller the Elder is a strong advocate for SunPower, which converted an old Richmond, Calif., Ford plant in his district to a panel-manufacturing facility.
The congressman hosted an Oct. 14, 2010, tour of the plant with company CEO Thomas H. Werner and Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar to promote the company’s fortunes.
“The path to a clean energy economy starts here, in places like SunPower’s research and development facility,” said Salazar during the tour.
“The work that comes from these facilities transforms renewable energy ideas into a reality. When renewable energy companies continue to invest in places like California, the realization of a new energy future is within our reach,” he said.
Miller the Elder said he was grateful for Salazar’s interest.
“We’ve worked hard to make renewable energy a priority because it represents America’s future economic growth. Today, businesses like SunPower are moving forward, hiring 200 people for good clean energy jobs in the East Bay,” he said.
“By fostering a business climate that encourages companies like SunPower, even more good jobs will be created locally, we’ll reduce demand for dirty energy sources, and we’ll cut customers’ utility bills. That’s the right direction,” he said.
SunPower’s political action committee (PAC) was not shy about participating in the political process either.
According to the SunPower PAC filings for its activities in the 2010 midterm election campaign cycle, it donated more than $36,000. Of the $15,650 donated to House and Senate candidates, $14,650 went to Democrats, with these top recipients: $4,000 to Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), $3,000 to Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D.-Ariz.) and $2,900 Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.).
The congressman was not forgotten either. The SunPower PAC remembered him with $500 for his 2010 campaign. While SunPower was a financial partner in the congressman’s reelection campaign, it straight-out hired his son.
Miller the Younger is not registered to lobby in Washington, but he is a member of its bar. He is not a member of the California bar, home of his lobbying firm, Lang, Hansen, O’Malley and Miller (LHOM), of which he is a founding partner.
The loan guarantee is earmarked for the job numbers for the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo County, which it has already sold to NRG Solar, but will continue to maintain.
According to the Department of Energy (DOE) website, the CVSR project will create 350 construction jobs during the two-year build and 15 permanent jobs-presumably those are the squeegee men for keeping the panels clean.
If $80 million per permanent job seems a little high, even for the current Obama administration, you are correct. In addition to the 350 construction jobs and the 15 squeegee men, there will an as-yet-undetermined number of jobs created building the panels for the CVSR-in Mexicali, Mexico.
The company is looking for a facility of up to 320,000 square feet, where it will build three different solar panel models and its solar roof tiles, according the company’s Aug. 5 statement.
The good news for Mexican jobs seekers did not affect the DOE’s loan guarantee to SunPower. Hours before the DOE 1705 loan program expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2011 on Sept. 30, the $1.2 billion in loan guarantees was approved for the company.
From the Cornfield, when is Congress going to investigate this apparent travesty?