Every year, April 15 is tax day. This year, a new poll was discussed. When asked: "Thinking about paying taxes, which one of the following bothers you the most?" Surprisingly, "What you pay" received the lowest response, while the "Way the government spends taxes" was the highest. So people understand that it takes money to run the government and generally don't object to paying their taxes. It is what the government does with that money that frustrates us.
Poll responders were likely thinking of the green-energy crony-corruption spending on flawed ventures like Solyndra and the, now, fifty-plus other green-energy embarrassments that received taxpayer dollars.
Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September 2011. It was just the bellwether; the first of many to come.
A year later Christine Lakatos and I profiled nearly 20 green-energy stimulus-funded companies that had gone bankrupt. The next week, we highlighted the other bookend: "projects that are still functioning, but are facing difficulties." One of those troubled companies was A123 Systems. One week after our report, A123 filed for bankruptcy. Nearly two months later, A123 was purchased by a large Chinese auto parts maker. It's biggest customer is another company on our troubled list: Fisker Automotive-manufacturer of the $100,000+ electric sports car made in Finland-is now facing bankruptcy itself after efforts to find a Chinese investor "stalled.
Didn't Obama promise, in 2008, to "create five million new energy jobs over the next decade--jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced"? But our tax-payer dollars created jobs in Finland and have benefitted a Chinese company. No wonder the "way the government spends taxes" tops the list.
But there's more.
One day after the poll was taken, CNN Money reports: "China's Suntech Power has put its largest subsidiary into bankruptcy." What they don't mention is that China's Suntech Power benefited from Obama's 2009 Stimulus Bill-receiving a $2.1 million credit from the Energy Department's stimulus-funded Advanced Energy Manufacturing (48C) Tax Credit. In the Green Corruption Files, Lakatos states: "in November 2012, Suntech shed some employees, claiming that it was the 'U.S. International Trade Commission's 35.95% tariff on Chinese solar panels that was partially responsible for the 50 impending layoffs at its Arizona production facilities.'" Suntech was even blamed for the Solyndra debacle. In December 2011, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported: "China's major solar panel companies-whose low-cost products led some American factories to close, helped create the Solyndra controversy, and spawned talk of a trade war-were bankrolled in the United States by the world's largest investment banks." Those "investment banks" include some the same ones we have profiled in our previous reports that have deep ties to Obama, and many green-energy projects that received billions in stimulus money.
Suntech has more interconnections. Arizona's Mesquite Solar Project, which received $337 million in taxpayer money despite its non-investment grade rating by Fitch, was to be built with Suntech's solar panels and the power was to be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric-which has strong political presence in Washington, D.C., and connections to billions in stimulus funds. California's PG&E, a company with "an extensive network of former high-ranking employees holding influential positions in government agencies at the federal and state level, has benefited handsomely from government financing of green energy projects."
Another sparsely reported solar-power embarrassment was covered by Fox News the same day the poll was taken. "SoloPower, which makes thin-film solar panels at a new plant in Portland, Ore., opened September 27 with an upbeat ribbon-cutting ceremony." After its grand opening just months ago, SoloPower's power is waning: "The first production line was never completed," and "in January, the company had a round of layoffs."
This is not a surprise to those of us who follow the green-energy crony-corruption scandal. SoloPower was one of the worst-rated loans. One month before it received a $197 million loan guarantee to "support the retrofit of an existing building to operate a thin-film solar panel manufacturing facility in Portland," Standard and Poors gave SoloPower a credit rating of CCC+.
On March 29, 2012, the House Committee on Oversight released a report that said: "S&P predicted that SoloPower will fail to meet its debt obligations." DOE emails, reveal that the Senior Loan Programs Advisor, called SoloPower "a completely uninspiring project."
Yet, in addition to the $197 million of U.S. taxpayer money, this European firm also received $40 million from Oregon taxpayers. Then in December 2012, "despite unfulfilled job and production promises and signs the Portland solar panel factory was sliding even further behind," Oregon officials tripled the "taxpayer's stake," said the Oregonian. After a management shake-up, Fox News reports that SoloPower is "trying to raise money by selling some of its equipment through a third party and is attempting to restructure its $197 million federal loan guarantee."
With the bad credit rating, the "uninspiring" label, and poor performance, why did SoloPower receive federal, state, and city funding-ultimately paid by the taxpayers? Because as the Oversight Committee report states: "What SoloPower lacked in economic value, it made up for in political connections."
Suntech and SoloPower are just two recent stories that are part of a long list of bankrupt and/or "troubled" politically connected green-energy projects.
No wonder the "way the government spends taxes" tops the list of taxpayers' frustrations. Perhaps if "government's inability to learn from its mistakes" had been on the list, it would have been the number one choice.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens' Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE).