An Ol' Broad's Ramblings
The Green Graveyard of Taxpayer-Funded Failures
Solar-cell manufacturer Solyndra became a household name when it collapsed, taking $627 million in American taxpayer dollars with it. It’s the poster company for the government picking winners and losers—or really, just losers—in the energy market. But there are 12 more “green energy” losers that have declared bankruptcy despite attempts to prop them up with taxpayer money—and the list is growing.
There’s a reason why these companies could not rely solely on private financing and needed help from the government. They couldn’t make it on their own; they couldn’t even make it with extra taxpayer help.
These green government “investments” take from one (by taxing or borrowing) and give to another, but they merely move money around. They do not create jobs. They send labor and resources to areas of the economy where they are wasted. Proponents of special financing and tax credits for solar companies claim that these benefits will pay for themselves down the line—but when the companies receiving them are going bankrupt, that is highly unlikely.
Kate Adams, a member of Heritage’s Young Leaders Program, and Heritage’s Rachael Slobodien compiled a list of the 12 members of the Green Graveyard—companies that received taxpayer money for green initiatives yet have filed for bankruptcy.
- Abound Solar (Loveland, Colorado), manufacturer of thin film photovoltaic modules.
- Beacon Power (Tyngsborough, Massachusetts), designed and developed advanced products and services to support stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation.
- Ener1 (Indianapolis, Indiana), built compact lithium-ion-powered battery solutions for hybrid and electric cars.
- Energy Conversion Devices (Rochester Hills, Michigan/Auburn Hills, Michigan), manufacturer of flexible thin film photovoltaic (PV) technology and a producer of batteries and other renewable energy-related products.
- Evergreen Solar, Inc. (Marlborough, Massachusetts), manufactured and installed solar panels.
- Mountain Plaza, Inc. (Dandridge, Tennessee), designed and implemented “truck-stop electrification” technology.
- Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsens Mills Acquisition Co. (Berlin, Wisconsin), a private company producing ethanol.
- Range Fuels (Soperton, Georgia), tried to develop a technology that converted biomass into ethanol without the use of enzymes.
- Raser Technologies (Provo, Utah), geothermal power plants and technology licensing.
- Solyndra (Fremont, California), manufacturer of cylindrical panels of thin-film solar cells.
- Spectrawatt (Hopewell, New York), solar cell manufacturer.
- Thompson River Power LLC (Wayzata, Minnesota), designed and developed advanced products and services to support stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation.
Some lawmakers are looking for a solution. The aptly named No More Solyndras Act would prohibit any new loan guarantees from Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
As Heritage’s Nicolas Loris wrote,
Republicans and Democrats alike need to end their addiction to energy subsidies, or we’re going to continue down the same failed path of wasteful spending…We don’t need to fix the energy subsidy programs. We need to abolish them.
President Obama said in 2010 that “the true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.” He couldn’t be more wrong. Companies that are innovating and creating real value for consumers are the engine of economic growth, and they’re doing it without millions in taxpayer funding.