The Right loves to bash Solyandra- but what’s the truth?

SO a new attack ad is out going after Obama again for the Solyandra and other alternative energy companies in the stimulus. With some very deceptive claims. They ignore that the companies that failed accounted for far less then 1% of the$835 Billion stimulus- even using their inflated numbers which count 2nd rounds of stimulus money- money that was not given out once signs of trouble arose. That the amount given to the fledgling alternative energy industries was less then the subsidies given to the established and highly profitable fossil fuel industries in America each year. Is far less then the amount american taxpayers pay every year to deal with the environmental, social, and health costs related to fossil fuels.

And they claim that this money was given to Obamas supporters- which ignores the fact that many of  the people behind these companies were longtime Republican funders.

And of course- they ignore that the Solyandra they so love to harp on was a pet project of George W Bush. And the Pulitzer Prize winning Tampa Bay Times Politifact indeed confirms the Solyandra loan guarantess was initiated by the Bush administration, and that they did indeed try and rush it through, with less protections for taxpayers then the stimulus version under Obama, so the Bush administration could say they had done something for green energy.

And of course- the right doesn’t want to talk about the underlying issues. That highly advanced and inventive american companies could not compete with Chinese firms. Chinese firms that are heavily subsidized by the Chinese government. That decades of Republican pushed “free trade agreements” have led millions of american jobs being lost- with companies being forced to mechanize or outsource american jobs to compete. (and yes- the very business friendly Bill Clinton likewise supported free trade- something he has since admitted was both a mistake and a failure.

The sad truth is that the solar companies Such as Solyandra that took stimulus money were required to set up production in the US. Now, if they had followed the Republican idea of business – maximize profits by minimizing costs (at the expense of american jobs) it’s highly likely these companies would be doing just fine.

So when will the right stop belittling an industry they have never liked- an industry that threatens some of their largest contributors, and the very paradigms they live by. When will we address the issue of americas inability to compete with countries with non existent labor costs and little to no regulations to prodect their own people from the true costs of industry? When will we discuss the true costs of our fossil fuel addiction- costs that our government hides in our taxes rather then making the companies who profit figure into their costs.

So let’s look at the Solyandra timeline:

May 2005: Just as a global silicon shortage begins driving up prices of solar photovoltaics [PV], Solyndra is founded to provide a cost-competitive alternative to silicon-based panels.

July 2005: The Bush Administration signs the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law, creating the 1703 loan guarantee program.

February 2006 – October 2006: In February, Solyndra raises its first round of venture financing worth $10.6 million from CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and U.S. Venture Partners. In October, Argonaut Venture Capital, an investment arm of George Kaiser, invests $17 million into Solyndra. Madrone Capital Partners, an investment arm of the Walton family, invests $7 million. Those investments are part of a $78.2 million fund.

December 2006: Solyndra Applies for a Loan Guarantee under the 1703 program.

Late 2007: Loan guarantee program is funded. Solyndra was one of 16 clean-tech companies deemed ready to move forward in the due diligence process. The Bush Administration DOE moves forward to develop a conditional commitment.

October 2008: Then Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet touted reasons for building in Silicon Valley and noted that the “company’s second factory also will be built in Fremont, since a Department of Energy loan guarantee mandates a U.S. location.”

November 2008: Silicon prices remain very high on the spot market, making non-silicon based thin film technologies like Solyndra’s very attractive to investors. Solyndra also benefits from having very low installation costs. The company raises $144 million from ten different venture investors, including the Walton-family run Madrone Capital Partners. This brings total private investment to more than $450 million to date.

January 2009: In an effort to show it has done something to support renewable energy, the Bush Administration tries to take Solyndra before a DOE credit review committee before President Obama is inaugurated. The committee, consisting of career civil servants with financial expertise, remands the loan back to DOE “without prejudice” because it wasn’t ready for conditional commitment.

March 2009: The same credit committee approves the strengthened loan application. The deal passes on to DOE’s credit review board. Career staff (not political appointees) within the DOE issue a conditional commitment setting out terms for a guarantee.

June 2009: As more silicon production facilities come online while demand for PV wavers due to the economic slowdown, silicon prices start to drop. Meanwhile, the Chinese begin rapidly scaling domestic manufacturing and set a path toward dramatic, unforeseen cost reductions in PV. Between June of 2009 and August of 2011, PV prices drop more than 50%.

September 2009: Solyndra raises an additional $219 million. Shortly after, the DOE closes a $535 million loan guarantee after six months of due diligence. This is the first loan guarantee issued under the 1703 program. From application to closing, the process took three years – not the 41 days that is sometimes reported.  OMB did raise some concerns in August not about the loan itself but how the loan should be “scored.”  OMB testified Wednesday that they were comfortable with the final scoring.

January – June 2010: As the price of conventional silicon-based PV continues to fall due to low silicon prices and a glut of solar modules, investors and analysts start questioning Solyndra’s ability to compete in the marketplace. Despite pulling its IPO (as dozens of companies did in 2010), Solyndra raises an additional $175 million from investors.

November 2010: Solyndra closes an older manufacturing facility and concentrates operations at Fab 2, the plant funded by the $535 million loan guarantee. The Fab 2 plant is completed that same month — on time and on budget — employing around 3,000 construction workers during the build-out, just as the DOE projected.

February 2011: Due to a liquidity crisis, investors provide $75 million to help restructure the loan guarantee. The DOE rightly assumed it was better to give Solyndra a fighting chance rather than liquidate the company – which was a going concern – for market value, which would have guaranteed significant losses.

March 2011: Republican Representatives complain that DOE funds are not being spent quickly enough.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI): “despite the Administration’s urgency and haste to pass the bill [the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] … billions of dollars have yet to be spent.”

And House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL): “The whole point of the Democrat’s stimulus bill was to spend billions of dollars … most of the money still hasn’t been spent.”

June 2011: Average selling prices for solar modules drop to $1.50 a watt and continue on a pathway to $1 a watt. Solyndra says it has cut costs by 50%, but analysts worry how the company will compete with the dramatic changes in conventional PV.

August 2011: DOE refuses to restructure the loan a second time.

September 2011: Solyndra closes its manufacturing facility, lays off 1,100 workers and files for bankruptcy. The news is touted as a failure of the Obama Administration and the loan guarantee office. However, as of September 12, the DOE loan programs office closed or issued conditional commitments of $37.8 billion to projects around the country. The $535 million loan is only 1.3% of DOE’s loan portfolio. To date, Solyndra is the only loan that’s known to be troubled.

Meanwhile, after complaining about stimulus funds moving too slowly, Congressmen Fred Upton and Cliff Stearns are now claiming that the Administration was pushing funds out the door too quickly: “In the rush to get stimulus cash out the door, despite repeated claims by the Administration to the contrary, some bets were bad from the beginning.


About drugsandotherthings

I am a criminal. Because I have used cannabis and psychedelics extensively. I have tried many other drugs, but never cared for the uppers, downers, or dissociatives. I love craft beer, and absinthe, but don't care much for alcohols effects- which quite frankly, are boring and dangerous. Science is my religion. I am in my 40's, and have travelled extensively. And often forced myself outside of my confort zone. I am employed, a respected member of my communtiy, an animal lover, an environmentalist, a political junkie, and the realities I have experienced continue to push me further to the left of the political spectrum.
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One Response to The Right loves to bash Solyandra- but what’s the truth?

  1. h2dog says:

    It’s just a given. We know the republicans will condemn and lie about what they once supported.
    Worked around the solar industry. Tough, tough, tough to compete with the low labor and the lack of a need to adhere to safety and environmental rules.
    The sad thing is that these companies have to compete when they’re being hamstrung by political action along with the way the world is structured now.
    But, I see that the Chinese are starting to have labor problems of their own. Along with people recognizing that they’d prefer not to have that cloud of nasty stuff to breathe,…. like we saw in the Olympics there a while back.
    Things will change.

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