If you thought the stunning failure of Solyndra, a solar-panel manufacturer and recipient of more than half a billion dollars in taxpayer-guaranteed loans, would set back the Obama administration’s pursuit of its “green jobs” agenda, you’d be wrong. Indeed, the president has shown few signs that he even considers the bankruptcy of a company he once called “a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism” much of a setback at all.
The company’s failure was predictable. A 2008 report from the Government Accountability Office warned that the Department of Energy’s loan program was insufficiently protected from the risk that green companies would not succeed, but the Obama administration pushed ahead anyway. The president even visited and gave a major speech at a Solyndra plant just weeks after a PricewaterhouseCoopers audit questioned the company’s “ability to continue.”
Apparently undeterred by Solyndra’s failure and the expense it has imposed on American taxpayers, the administration continues to put up billions in taxpayer money to guarantee loans to similar companies. Just days before Solyndra collapsed, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a partial guarantee for an $852 million loan in support of the Genesis Solar Project in Riverside, Calif. NextEra Energy Resources, the project sponsor, estimated that the investment will create approximately 847 new jobs (at a rate of just over $1 million per).
Shortly thereafter, First Solar Inc. received $456 million in loan guarantees from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, to finance the construction of two solar power plants — in Canada. It is the largest guarantee the Ex-Im Bank has ever approved for U.S. solar products shipped abroad. James Brown, president of First Solar’s utility systems business group, told Bloomberg that his company never would have gotten the financing without the federal government’s help. Why are private lenders so wary, if the investment is truly sound? “Banks just don’t understand the technology.”
With Australia setting up a 10 billion fund for similar projects the green carpetbaggers are out in force down under and it would be too much to hope that Gillard and her financially incompetent crew would learn from the Obama disasters .