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Thread: The Phony Solyndra Scandal

  1. #1
    Havakasha is offline

    The Phony Solyndra Scandal

    Siriusly Wrong, if you werent such an ideologue you would have dug a little deeper.
    Maybe next time? Nah.

    OP-ED COLUMNIST
    The Phony Solyndra Scandal
    By JOE NOCERA
    Published: September 23, 2011


    If Brian Harrison and W. G. Stover, the two Solyndra executives who took the Fifth Amendment at a Congressional hearing on Friday, ever spend a day in jail, I’ll stand on my head in Times Square.

    It’s not going to happen, for one simple reason: neither they, nor anyone else connected with Solyndra, have done anything remotely criminal. The company’s recent bankruptcy — which the Republicans are now rabidly “investigating” because Solyndra had the misfortune to receive a $535 million federally guaranteed loan from the Obama administration — was largely brought on by a stunning collapse in the price of solar panels over the past year or so.

    The company’s innovative solar panels, high-priced to begin with, became increasingly uncompetitive in the marketplace. Solyndra didn’t have enough big commercial customers to create the necessary economies of scale. And although Harrison and Stover remained optimistic up to the bitter end — insisting six weeks before the late-August bankruptcy filing that the company was going to be fine — they ultimately failed to raise additional capital that would have allowed Solyndra to stay in business.

    The Republicans are trying to make that optimism appear sinister, but if we’ve learned anything from the financial crisis, it is that wishful thinking in the face of a collapsing market is not a crime. Otherwise, Richard Fuld, the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, would be wearing prison garb.

    Harrison and Stover are on the hot seat. Anything they say in their defense — even an off-hand remark — can and will be used against them. Their lawyers would be fools if they didn’t insist that their clients take the Fifth Amendment.

    Do the Republicans know this? Of course. Do they care? Of course not. For an hour and a half on Friday morning, they peppered the two men with questions about this “taxpayer ripoff,” as Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, described it, knowing full well that Harrison and Stover would invoke their constitutional right to remain silent. Joe McCarthy would have been proud.

    The purpose of the hearing — indeed, the point of manufacturing a Solyndra investigation in the first place — is to embarrass the president. That’s how Washington works in the modern age: the party out of power gins up phony scandals aimed at hurting the party in power.

    Undoubtedly, the Solyndra “scandal” will draw a little blood: there are some embarrassing e-mails showing the White House pushing to get the deal done quickly so it could tout Solyndra’s green jobs as part of the stimulus package.

    But if we could just stop playing gotcha for a second, we might realize that federal loan programs — especially loans for innovative energy technologies — virtually require the government to take risks the private sector won’t take. Indeed, risk-taking is what these programs are all about. Sometimes, the risks pay off. Other times, they don’t. It’s not a taxpayer ripoff if you don’t bat 1.000; on the contrary, a zero failure rate likely means that the program is too risk-averse. Thus, the real question the Solyndra case poses is this: Are the potential successes significant enough to negate the inevitable failures?

    I have a hard time answering “no.” Most electricity today is generated by coal-fired power plants, operated by monopoly, state-regulated utilities. Because they’ve been around so long, and because coal is cheap, these plants have built-in cost advantages that no new technology can overcome without help. The federal guarantees help lower the cost of capital for technologies like solar; they help spur innovation; and they help encourage private investment. These are all worthy goals.

    To say “no” is also to cede the solar panel industry to China, which last year alone provided some $30 billon in subsidies for its solar industry. Over all, the American solar industry is a big success story; it now employs more people than either steel or coal, and it’s a net exporter.

    But solar panel manufacturing — a potential source of middle-class jobs, and an important reason the White House was so high on Solyndra, which made its panels in Fremont, Calif. — is another story. Not so long ago, China made 6 percent of the world’s solar panels. Now it makes 54 percent, and leads the world in solar panel manufacturing. Needless to say, the U.S. share of the market has shrunk. The only way America can manufacture competitive solar panels is to come up with innovative technologies that the Chinese can’t replicate. Like, for instance, Solyndra’s.

    At the hearing on Friday, several of the Republican congressmen boasted that, in passing the continuing resolution to keep the government running the day before, they had succeeded in slashing the program that had made the loan to Solyndra. It’s true: of the $4 billion that remained in the program, $1.5 billion was cut.

    But the real winner isn’t the American taxpayer or even the House Republicans. It’s the Chinese solar industry.
    Last edited by Havakasha; 09-26-2011 at 02:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Havakasha is offline
    For Insight On Solyndra Loan, Ask The Nuclear Industry, Markey Says

    First Posted: 9/23/11 04:43 PM ET Updated: 9/23/11 04:56 PM ET

    Among the key questions being raised by Congressional Republicans regarding the $535 million federal loan guarantee provided by the Department of Energy to Solyndra, the California solar technology company that subsequently failed, is why the loan was restructured earlier this year to put private investors ahead of taxpayers in the repayment queue, should just such a failure come about.

    "It is clear that Solyndra was a dubious investment, but DOE doubled down in March of this year and restructured the loan, possibly further increasing taxpayers’ liability," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) in a joint statement issued immediately after Solyndra's announcement at the end of last month that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and laying off more than 1,000 workers.

    Why the DOE restructured the loan "is a question we want answered," the legislators continued. "In this time of record debt such disregard for taxpayer dollars cannot be tolerated."

    Stearns has suggested that such a restructuring may have even been illegal, citing rules laid out in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

    But Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) argued during Friday's hearing before the House Energy Committee -- and in a letter sent to Upton and Stearns this morning -- that subordinating taxpayers' interests to those of private investors on DOE loan guarantees arose in large part due to complaints from the nuclear power industry that the loans, created under the Bush administration, were trickling out too slowly for their own projects.

    That view was endorsed by the industry's congressional backers, Markey noted.

    "There are many legitimate public policy considerations that Congress should explore regarding the full suite of the Department’s loan guarantee programs," Markey wrote in his letter. "Among those should be a recognition of the fact that the authority to subordinate the taxpayer interest behind that of private investors’ in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation was strongly advocated for by the nuclear industry and adopted by DOE in an open regulatory process."


    Among other things, Markey pointed by way of evidence to testimony by Marv Fertel, president and chief executive of the Nuclear Energy Institute, who told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in March, 2009, that DOE's interpretation of just who should be repaid when was flawed, and indeed, slowing things down -- not least because private investors were less likely to join the government in financing risky nuclear power plant projects, which can cost $10 billion to build, if they felt their capital was being subjected to greater risk.

    The statute creating the loan program, Fertel argued, holds that the "rights of the Secretary, with respect to any property acquired pursuant to a guarantee or related agreements, shall be superior to the rights of any other person with respect to the property.” In other words, the DOE's interest in the project being financed was superior to that of any private investor. "The DOE Office of General Counsel has consistently misinterpreted this section," Fertel said, arguing that it only meant the government had a superior interest in that portion of the project it was backing, not the entire project.

    In late 2009, DOE revised its interpretation of the statute -- a move celebrated by the nuclear power industry, and one that, according to Markey, paved the way for the restructuring earlier this year.

    "I reiterate my request," Markey said in concluding his letter, "for hearings into the implementation of the nuclear power plant loan guarantee program, the issuance of the conditional nuclear loan guarantee that have been awarded, and the role the nuclear industry has had in altering the terms associated with subordination."

    Meanwhile, two executives of Solyndra, chief executive Brian Higgins and chief financial officer Bill Stover, sat in stony silence during today's hearing, invoking their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The F.B.I., the DOE's own inspector general and two congressional committees are currently investigating the loan and the company's failure.
    Last edited by Havakasha; 09-26-2011 at 02:50 PM.

  3. #3
    Havakasha is offline
    TUE SEP 27, 2011 AT 07:30 AM PDT
    Two more Republicans caught with pants down on Solyndra scandalmongering
    byJed Lewison
    Along with pretty much every other Republican in Congress, Fred Upton and Cliff Stearns hope the failure of of Solyndra, a green energy company backed by federal loan guarantees under a program initiated during the Bush administration, turns into the first bona fide scandal of the Obama administration.
    But just like many of their colleagues — including House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa — both Upton and Stearns not only supported the program under which Solyndra received aide, they lobbied on behalf of companies in their district to receive the exact same sort of assistance.

    In 2005, when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House, Upton voted for an energy law that included a loan guarantee program to help support companies looking to develop renewable energy projects as well as nuclear and coal. And in 2007, Upton backed legislation that created the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program, targeting manufacturers and suppliers looking to retool U.S. factories to build high-fuel economy vehicles.
    The ATVM Loan Program has proved to be a boon for Michigan. In July, a Michigan steel manufacturer, Severstal Dearborn, won a $730 million loan guarantee from the Energy Department. One year earlier, Upton was among Michigan lawmakers who wrote to Chu calling for "prompt completion and consideration of loan applications" from Michigan companies. [...] Upton also was among four GOP lawmakers from Michigan who wrote to Chu on Oct. 30, 2010, urging him to back a $207 million ATVM loan guarantee for EcoMotors International, which was looking to develop a manufacturing site in Livonia, Mich.

    So Upton not only helped pass the law, but he also used it to help his constituents. There's nothing wrong with that, but in light of his current scandalmongering, it's worth noting that less than two years ago, he was praising the Obama administration:

    Upton was among a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers who praised Chu for "efforts to promote the development of clean energy in Michigan and across the country," according to a December 2009 letter to the Energy Department that was co-signed by Upton.
    That letter was written to bolster the application of four clean-energy companies — Suniva, Inc., United Solar Ovonics, Xtreme Power Solutions and Clairvoyant Energy — seeking 1705 loans.

    As for Cliff Stearns, his hometown newspaper pointedly called him out over the weekend for the duplicity inherent in his scandalmongering:

    U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns and his fellow Republicans have seized on the recent bankruptcy of Solyndra Inc. to discredit the Obama administration's efforts to stimulate renewable energy development and green job growth.
    "I see no reason for the taxpayers to have any confidence that these funds could be spent wisely, and it should be returned to the Treasury to reduce our debt," Stearns said, calling the Obama administration's use of stimulus funds to encourage alternative energy development "suspect."

    Funny, that's not what Stearns said last year, when the Energy Department provided $95.5 million to help Saft America Inc. open a lithium-ion battery plant in his district, at Cecil Commerce Center, in Jacksonville.

    "I am honored to join in welcoming Saft's Li-ion battery manufacturing facility to the Cecil Commerce Center, which underscores that this is a good place to do business," Stearns said at the plant's ground-breaking.

    "In addition, as a member of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, I recognize the contributions of these advanced rechargeable batteries in meeting our energy needs."

    Did it really take the bankruptcy of just one stimulus-supported solar energy manufacturer to turn Rep. Stearns sour on green energy development?

    If so, that's too bad. Because America's competitors in China, Europe and elsewhere have no such reluctance about subsidizing the cutting edge technologies and alternative energy development that will be so crucial to economic success and job growth in the coming years.

    Stearns was right the first time.

    As the paper points out, Stearns is worse than a hypocrite: he's wrong. Instead of spending all their time trying to score political points by dreaming up a scandal that just isn't there, wouldn't it be nice if he and the rest of his cronies tried to get something done for the country instead?

  4. #4
    SiriuslyLong is offline
    Guru
    SiriuslyLong's Avatar
    Joined: Jan 2009 Location: Ann Arbor, MI Posts: 3,560
    I saw this place today on I880. One building was empty, the other one had some cars in the lot. Massive buildings.

    I visited the unsecured creditor who supplied them parts today too. They are overall not too bullish on solar. It is too expensive they say.

    It didn't take long for the left to defend this loss of tax payer money. So in response to Hava-gafa-kasha, all I will say is this is the EXACT reason why government should be smaller, and minimize it's role in the free market. Period. You can blame Bush, republicans, call conservatives hyprocrites, whatever - that's politics. The real problem is that solar is too expensive right now, and it costs ALL OF US (a concept the left cannot understand because there are always "the rich" to plunder).

    Our tax payer dollars may have gone to waste yet again for the liberal agenda. And Hava-gava-kasha, the objective one (LMFAO) totes this flag hook, line and sinker. No compromise allowed. Any amount of compromise off the rigid ideology is heresy and is punishable by more posts by Lloyd calling you an ideologue (amongst other things -- wait until Typical chimes in lol).

    The Solyndra curse1
    By Paul R. La Monica September 27, 2011: 1:14 PM ET

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- To say that the bankruptcy of government-backed solar energy firm Solyndra is a blow to the industry is a massive understatement.

    Consider this. Shares of First Solar (FSLR), a leading solar firm that's actually big enough to be in the S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq 100 (NDX), are down about 25% since Solyndra went under on August 31. And that makes First Solar one of the better performing stocks in the sector.

    The Guggenheim Solar (TAN) exchange-traded fund, which has the "ain't we so precious" ticker symbol of TAN, has plunged nearly 34%. Several Chinese solar stocks, including Jinko Solar (JKS) and Trina Solar (TSL), have lost more than half their value.

    The collapse of Solyndra highlights just how risky this still-nascent business is. It didn't help either that Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 just two weeks after another publicly traded solar firm, Evergreen Solar (ESLRQ), did the same.

    So are all solar stocks getting unfairly burned (Boo! Hiss! I know.) because of the sins of Solyndra and Evergreen? No.

    Even before the bankruptcies of Solyndra and Evergreen, shares of solar leaders had pulled back sharply from earlier highs this spring.

    You may recall that back in March, solar stocks were, well, hotter than the sun, due to investor expectations that the Japan earthquake and resulting nuclear crisis would lead to more demand for safer and cleaner solar energy in Europe and the United States.

    But those hopes have been dashed by the sovereign debt nightmare in Europe and the budget battle in the U.S.

    Spain and Italy have pledged to reduce lucrative subsidies to solar companies.

    And the fact that Solyndra, a firm that received more than $500 million from the Department of Energy, went kaput could make it much more difficult for other solar companies to get funding going forward. "Solar" is now as dirty a word in Congress as "stimulus" or "taxes."

    With all that in mind, it may still be wise to avoid solar companies -- even if they appear attractive. Sure, First Solar now trades at less than 8 times earnings estimates.

    But Aaron Chew, an analyst with Maxim Group in New York, said solar companies may be the classic value trap. They only seem cheap because earnings estimates are too high.

    Chew thinks that most solar companies will continue to face pressure because of overly optimistic expectations for solar panel demand earlier this year. It's a simple case of Economics 101. A glut of photovoltaic panels + less demand from cash-strapped developed markets = solar meltdown.

    "The stock declines for solar companies really have nothing to do with Solyndra. They'd be here even without that," he said. "Solyndra gets a lot of attention for symbolic reasons. But what's happening is you have oversupply and plunging prices and that's just being exacerbated by Europe."

    Another analyst points out that as long as other forms of energy are affordable for businesses and consumers, it may be difficult for solar firms to gain ground. (SL - the natural solution to the central planner is to tax these other sources of energy).

    "Natural gas is at about $4 a gallon and it's relatively clean," said William Burns, an analyst with Johnson Rice, an energy boutique research firm in New Orleans. "To try and be competitive with that will make it tough for solar energy. It might be different if natural gas was $8 or $9 a gallon."

    It will be worth keeping an eye on the industry though. If the stocks fall much further, some solar companies could become takeover targets.

    French energy giant Total (TOT) is buying American solar firm SunPower (SPWRA). Chew noted that First Solar is similar to SunPower in that it has two major sources of revenue. It makes solar panels but also installs solar projects. That diversification could make it more attractive than the pure play panel companies.

    Chew said there has been recent chatter that General Electric (GE, Fortune 500) could be interested in First Solar. Last year, there was speculation that German industrial conglomerate Siemens (SI) could be a buyer.

    Alex Morris, an analyst with Raymond James in Houston, said he doesn't rule those rumors out completely. But he said investors shouldn't bet on mergers either. The industry is still in for tough times ahead.

    "I'd be very hesitant with these stocks. People got caught off guard with how quickly prices fell and the effect that's had on profit margins," Morris said. "I'm looking for mild improvement in the coming quarter but it's gong to be ugly."

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/27/mark...le+Feedfetcher

  5. #5
    Havakasha is offline
    Still waiting for you to publish a SINGLE positive article on alternative energy.
    My expectation is it will never happen.

    I think you need to read the article that began this thread to understand why we call you an ideologue for so quickly jumping to conclusions about Solyndra. No surprise however


    "Over all, the American solar industry is a big success story; it now employs more people than either steel or coal, and it’s a net exporter."
    Last edited by Havakasha; 09-28-2011 at 12:28 AM.

  6. #6
    Havakasha is offline
    "The U.S. is late to the renewable game, and we have a long way to go. China is spending and investing $12 million dollars an hour on clean energy, says John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress."
    Last edited by Havakasha; 09-28-2011 at 01:14 AM.

  7. #7
    Havakasha is offline
    Undoubtedly, the Solyndra “scandal” will draw a little blood: there are some embarrassing e-mails showing the White House pushing to get the deal done quickly so it could tout Solyndra’s green jobs as part of the stimulus package.

    But if we could just stop playing gotcha for a second, we might realize that federal loan programs — especially loans for innovative energy technologies — virtually require the government to take risks the private sector won’t take. Indeed, risk-taking is what these programs are all about. Sometimes, the risks pay off. Other times, they don’t. It’s not a taxpayer ripoff if you don’t bat 1.000; on the contrary, a zero failure rate likely means that the program is too risk-averse. Thus, the real question the Solyndra case poses is this: Are the potential successes significant enough to negate the inevitable failures?

    I have a hard time answering “no.” Most electricity today is generated by coal-fired power plants, operated by monopoly, state-regulated utilities. Because they’ve been around so long, and because coal is cheap, these plants have built-in cost advantages that no new technology can overcome without help. The federal guarantees help lower the cost of capital for technologies like solar; they help spur innovation; and they help encourage private investment. These are all worthy goals.

    To say “no” is also to cede the solar panel industry to China, which last year alone provided some $30 billon in subsidies for its solar industry. Over all, the American solar industry is a big success story; it now employs more people than either steel or coal, and it’s a net exporter.

    But solar panel manufacturing — a potential source of middle-class jobs, and an important reason the White House was so high on Solyndra, which made its panels in Fremont, Calif. — is another story. Not so long ago, China made 6 percent of the world’s solar panels. Now it makes 54 percent, and leads the world in solar panel manufacturing. Needless to say, the U.S. share of the market has shrunk. The only way America can manufacture competitive solar panels is to come up with innovative technologies that the Chinese can’t replicate. Like, for instance, Solyndra’s.

    At the hearing on Friday, several of the Republican congressmen boasted that, in passing the continuing resolution to keep the government running the day before, they had succeeded in slashing the program that had made the loan to Solyndra. It’s true: of the $4 billion that remained in the program, $1.5 billion was cut.

    But the real winner isn’t the American taxpayer or even the House Republicans. It’s the Chinese solar industry.

  8. #8
    Havakasha is offline
    How about this "wade"? lol

  9. #9
    Havakasha is offline
    Your an ideologue of the worst kind S&L. Thats why you jumped on this controversy without any attempt at a complex analysis.

  10. #10
    SiriuslyLong is offline
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    SiriuslyLong's Avatar
    Joined: Jan 2009 Location: Ann Arbor, MI Posts: 3,560
    Quote Originally Posted by Havakasha View Post
    Your an ideologue of the worst kind S&L. Thats why you jumped on this controversy without any attempt at a complex analysis.
    The republicans cited in that article are hypocrites!

    I love it when you talk about "complex". So ironic coming from you LMFAO.

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