Energy & Environment

Your Obama “green energy” bankruptcy of the day: Abound Solar

Bloomberg Businessweek throws out a little bad news, which President Obama will of course completely ignore during his health-care victory lap: “Abound Solar Inc., a U.S. solar manufacturer that was awarded a $400 million U.S. loan guarantee, is closing its doors and filing for bankruptcy, according to the U.S. Energy Department.”

Abound Solar was based in Colorado.  The Denver Post adds some details about the failure of its business model: “Abound has been struggling with the falling price of solar panels. The company’s technology made a solar cell out of a piece of glass by applying a thin film of chemical to it.  It was supposed to be cheaper than traditional silicon panels, but since 2009 the price of those panels has dropped from $2.79 a watt to less than $1, according to industry consultant Solarbuzz.”

The company had already “cut its workforce by about 70 percent, firing about 180 full-time workers and 100 part-time employees.  It also put on hold plans to build a large new factory in Indiana.”

Abound had borrowed about $70 million against these loan guarantees.  That would have bought a lot of health care for poor people, but the Obama Administration blew it on solar panel junk instead.

Here’s what Energy Secretary Steven Chu said at the time: “Pioneering projects like this are what will help the U.S. recapture the lead when it comes to supporting innovation in the global clean energy economy.  Not only is this investment creating thousands of jobs, but it is also increasing our renewable energy manufacturing capacity and putting us on the path for our future prosperity.”  (Emphasis mine.)

President Obama himself promised that Abound’s Colorado plant would “produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year” once fully operational.  That lasted for two years, and cost the American taxpayer millions, followed by the production of a state-of-the-art bankruptcy.

Abound Solar had a heavy stench of Solyndra-style corruption about it.  It will come as no surprise to learn that the big Abound investors were also top Obama contributors and bundlers, accounting for “$475,599 to federal Democrat candidates and causes over the 2008 to 2012 election cycles,” according to the National Legal and Policy Center.  That includes $11,900 to Obama’s presidential campaigns, and $87,500 in bundled contributions to his inaugural committee.

They also spent $70,000 last year to “lobby the House, Senate, and Department of Energy solely about the Loan Guarantee program,” by the NLPC’s reckoning.  But remember, Barack Obama vowed that lobbyists would have no power in his Administration!

Democrat Congresswoman Betsy Markey, in whose district the Abound Solar facility is located, confirmed in 2010 that “without the loan guarantees, they would not be able to really move forward on this project.  It’s seed money that’s going to be fully paid back by Abound.”  Or not.  You know, these things happen when economies are centrally planned.

Update: Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are not happy about the Abound Solar bankruptcy.  In a joint statement, they said: “Today we learned the harsh truth of what really lies ‘Beyond Solndra’ – and sadly it is another bankruptcy.  Abound is just the latest reminder that President Obama’s stimulus has failed. First Solyndra, then Beacon Power, Ener1, and now Abound – the bankruptcies are piling up, confirming the prophecy of President Obama who warned in his State of the Union address that ‘some companies fail.’  But the question remains – why invest in risky bets like Solyndra in the first place, especially when administration experts are warning that they are doomed for failure?”

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