So the conservatives have been all abuzz this week with the news that Abound Solar, a US solar manufacturer that received federal loan guarantees, is filing for bakruptcy.
Yep, another Solyandra they say, and proof that solar can’t work. And proof that Obama is clueless.
But once again, they ignore the facts.
They say that Abound received a $400 million loan guarantee- while ignoring the fact only $68 million was used before the energy department cut their line of credit. And they ignore the fact, as they did in Solyandra, that the US would be inline for payment during the bankruptcy proceedings.
And they completely ignore the fact that when the Obama administration made these so called 1705 loans as part of the stimulus, 87%+ of the loans went to “low risk” power generation companies, companies- companies that had to receive comittments from power purchasers before receiving the loan guarantees. 13% of the loans went to so called high risk companies- companies involved not in the direct generation or transmission of power, but in the equipment to do so.
And they ignore the fact that congress and the Obama administration set aside $2.47 Billion dollars to cover potential losses. That was enough to cover 100% of all the high risk loans (assuming those companies used all of the loan guarantees, they all went bankrupt, and the government got nothing back in bankruptcy proceedings), leaving nearly a half billion dollars left over.
The reality is current “losses” total just over $600 million or less then 1/4 of what was budget for. And this total is high- for it does not include all the money that the government will get back in bankruptcy proceedings (remember how a couple months ago the conservatives loved to show the pictures of Solyandras factory for sale- while failing to mention a huge portion of its sale would go to cover it’s losses with our government?)
And of course they ignore the realities that led to the failure of both Solyandra and Abound. They ignore that the Bush administration had been desperately pushing the same loans for Solyandra in an attempt to get them through before the end of his term. They ignore the fact that there had been a global shortage of the raw materials for making solar panels for years that made companies such as Solyandra and Abound, whose new technologies either avoided the use of or, or used far less of these materials, look to be the future. And they ignore the fact that shortly after the money was promised that the shortage of materials dissipated. And they ignore the huge subsidies that Chinese solar manufacturers receive from the communist government- making it impossible for US manufacturers to compete on a level playing field.
And they ignore what this says about how complicated our world has become- US companies manufacture much of the equipment these Chinese companies use to make the solar panels. So US companies make and sell the equipment that allows foreign companies to out manufacture the US, costing US manufacturing and related jobs, while producing cheaper products that arguably, due to lower costs, ultimately creates more jobs on the installation side. It is not just the solar industry that is seeing this complicated dynamic, but it is one no one is really talking about, or thinking about whether it is good for America in the long term.
And despite the claims of many conservatives who insist that investment in solar is a bad idea, that the free market should take care of things, they ignore the facts such as the study by Bloomberg that found “fundamental, structural markets short comings.”, specifically: “a “dearth of capital for potentially lower-cost breakthrough technologies” . Yet these same conservatives see no problem with giving billions in subsidies and tax breaks to estabilshed and profitable fossil fuel and nuclear energy companies- subsidies and tax breaks that do little for americans other then increase the profits for a few.
And despite the claims of solar not growing, we have seen production grow under Obama. New installs increasing from just over 200MW in Bush’s last year to just under 1,000MW in 2010, and growing.