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More Taxpayer Money Gone

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How many more green energy companies must go bankrupt or reduce labor forces before all you green energy advocates will say enough? On  April 17, First Solar, a solar energy company that received a $1.46 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE), announced that it will lay off 2,000 workers in the US and worldwide. First Solar announced that the company will “indefinitely idle” (whatever that means) four production lines in Malaysia and close a plant in Germany. These actions, combined with other personnel reductions in Europe and the US, will reduce First Solar’s global workforce by approximately 2,000 positions, about 30 percent of the total. This is the largest reduction for the industry since bankrupt Solyndra dismissed its 1,100 employees in August, 2011.

Five months ago, First Solar celebrated making its millionth solar module for the European market at a plant in Frankfurt an der Oder. However, reality (in the form of decreasing subsidies and demand) reared its ugly head. On Tuesday, the company, which is based in Arizona, announced that it would stop all of its German production. First Solar said it will return a $30 million German government grant, write off at least $150 million in assets, and spend as much as $55 million on severance payments to its workers there.

Solar manufacturers are struggling with subsidy cuts in Europe and falling natural-gas prices that make renewable energy less competitive. The largest producers in China say their profits will fall this year as shipments grow. The entire solar industry is struggling to cope with three new realities: lower government subsidies for solar power around the world, significant global overcapacity in panel manufacturing, and intense competition from Chinese makers of solar panels. Solar panel prices have fallen 46% in the past year as manufacturers, led by First Solar and Suntech Power, the world’s largest solar company, boosted output. Germany and Italy, the two biggest markets, cut subsidies (rates paid for solar power) to curb an uncontrolled installation boom.

Demand for solar panels is falling as governments, particularly in Europe, reduce subsidizing the industry. So my questions are: (1) Why can’t First Solar (or Solyndra or Ener1 or Beacon Power or SunPower or any green energy company) continue to operate, even when subsidized? (2) Is anyone at DOE paying any attention to what is happening to First Solar in particular and the green energy market in general? and (3) How much more subsidy money is the US government going to pour into what is proving to be an economic nightmare?

Can anyone cite where the computer industry is being subsidized and/or receiving DOE loans? A majority of laptops are made in (wait for it …) China. Why do green energy companies get subsidies and/or loans so they can compete with China? Why does the computer industry not get the same subsidies and/or loans? Am I missing something here?

Or is it because President Barack Hussein Obama favors green energy?

But that’s just my opinion.

 

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  • http://frivolousdisorder.com/ Frivolous D

    Warren, Welcome back. I was afraid we lost you but, then again, I was once called naive by a nun.

  • Gapslapper

    This must be the least informed discussion of the green energy industry I’ve been exposed to since watching FOX news’ attack on first solar. I see that people love throwing around the term loan guarantee and yet I don’t think that many of them even really know what it means or how it is structured into a large scale solar plant deal. I don’t have the time to explain it to you blogtards, but suffice it to say that it’s not just billions of dollars handed over with no due diligence done to monitor the spending. Enjoy your presidential bashing session, which somehow has been paralleled with the solar industry (thank you republican media outlets).

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    I found a rather interesting article praising solar energy investment that I’d like to quote…

    NEW YORK – U.S. solar developers are luring cash at record rates from investors ranging from Warren Buffett to Google and KKR by offering returns on projects four times those available for Treasury securities.

    Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., together with the biggest Internet search company, private equity companies, and insurers MetLife Inc. and John Hancock Life Insurance Co., poured more than $500 million into renewable energy in the last year. That’s the most ever for companies outside the club of banks and specialist lenders that traditionally back solar energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.

    Once so risky that only government backing could draw private capital, solar projects now are making returns of about 15 percent, according to Stanford University’s Center for Energy Policy and Finance. That has attracted a wider community of investors eager to cash in on earnings stronger than those for infrastructure projects such as toll roads and pipelines. “A solar power project with a long-term sales agreement could be viewed as a machine that generates revenue,” said Marty Klepper, an attorney at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, which helped arrange a solar deal for Buffett. “It’s an attractive investment for any firm, not just those in energy.”

    Click the link, the picture they use to praise energy investment will amaze you.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Hussein Dreadful

    Warren asks:

    “(1) Why can’t First Solar (or Solyndra or Ener1 or Beacon Power or SunPower or any green energy company) continue to operate, even when subsidized?”

    Setting aside for a moment his convenient failure to mention that most green energy companies do continue to operate, the major obstacle facing them is that they are trying to make inroads into a socioeconomic system that is almost entirely structured around fossil fuels.

    A lot of early car companies failed as well, in part because the system was structured around railroads and shipping.

    “(2) Is anyone at DOE paying any attention to what is happening to First Solar in particular and the green energy market in general?”

    Yes. They even have a website, energy.gov, all about it. You should take a look at it sometime.

    “(3) How much more subsidy money is the US government going to pour into what is proving to be an economic nightmare?”

    Claiming that green energy is a nightmare in this economy is a bit like calling the landlord to complain about your leaky bathtub while a tsunami is bearing down on you.

    (At this point, for some reason, Warren stopped numbering his questions. I hope it isn’t because he doesn’t know how to count past 3.)

    “Can anyone cite where the computer industry is being subsidized and/or receiving DOE loans?”

    Since the computer industry is not an energy industry, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the DOE doesn’t subsidize it. However, Warren seems to have forgotten that there wouldn’t be a computer industry if the government hadn’t funded its development.

    Now that it’s an established industry, it doesn’t need government assistance so much, which is the whole point. That doesn’t mean the federal government is unwilling to provide grants and loans for computing initiatives. Far from it: there’s over half a billion dollars’ worth of them available.

    “Why do green energy companies get subsidies and/or loans so they can compete with China?”

    Why does Warren think that’s why they get them?

    “Why does the computer industry not get the same subsidies and/or loans?”

    See above; also much of modern history, starting with World War II.

    “Am I missing something here?”

    Ya think?

    Or is it because President Barack Hussein Obama favors green energy?

    Goodness, a president providing government assistance to things he believes in. How novel.

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Hussein Gardner

    It says something about the editorial staff’s leanings that after resoundingly showing how bad (and appropriated) his last and other articles were, that this would be a featured article on BC’s home page.

    This ridiculous obsession with Hussein and Solyndra will be your undoing Warren…

    it’s getting really borrrrrring.

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Hussein Gardner

    Friv, he’ll want to thank you for welcoming him back and imply you’re “on his side” without realizing what you wrote…

    …until he reads this of course

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Hussein Gardner

    Doc: Claiming that green energy is a nightmare in this economy is a bit like calling the landlord to complain about your leaky bathtub while a tsunami is bearing down on you.

    Beautiful, and it’s something Warren would not only do, but blame the tsunami on Hussein Obama

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Oh, Warren!

    intense competition from Chinese makers of solar panels.

    Never mind that the ONLY reason those Chinese solar-panel manufacturers are only able to BE competitive because of billions in government subsidies. If we did the same, then ours would be even more competitive given our overwhelming employee productivity compared to theirs…

    …but in Warren World, subsidies are BADBADBADBAD no matter how much our emerging industries need them. In Warren World, subsidies and outrageous tax breaks to the tune of billions every year is only good for Big Oil.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Hussein Dreadful

    It says something about the editorial staff’s leanings…

    No, Jet, it doesn’t.

    Warren is by far the most prolific Politics contributor at the moment, so it shouldn’t be surprising that his articles sometimes get feature status.

    I’ve only written two all year, and both got featured. If you submit more, yours will too.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    The real pity is that Warren will pay precisely ZERO attention to your comprehensive rebuttal…he’s simply not interested in hearing both sides of the story. To him, listening to anything that calls his worldview into question is simply a waste of time no matter how factual the contradicting information may be.

    If you’ll think about it, he is a mainstream ‘Christian’ and his obstinacy is quite close to that of religious faith which, as you know, often leads one to deny the reality one sees in front of one’s eyes. So until you get him to question his faith in oh-so-Holy Conservatism, I don’t think you stand a chance to get him to listen to reason concerning any tenets thereof.

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Hussein Gardner

    That never occured to me Glenn, buying solar panels might equal worshiping a sun god wouldn’t it?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Slightly off topic: Coolest. President. EVER!

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Hussein Gardner

    Warren’s reason for writing this article? To repeatedly get it on public record that Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein.

    Warren most young voters could care less about Hussein, and Southern voters only hate the name because it sounds A-rab, and if you asked them who he was they couldn’t tell you.

    Like a nagging housewife Warren has to scream repeatedly, SOLYNDRA! over and over and over and over again.

    Warren, you have no idea that in the real world the voting public has no idea or memory of WHAT Solyndra is any more, nor do they know their state senator’s name, most can’t name their governor and would have to google it to find out… and constantly harping about it only makes you look like a fool…

    …and with truly good reason.

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Hussein Gardner

    Oh GREAT Glenn, if Warren sees that he’ll start calling Obama the Barack Ness Monster.

  • troll

    …it’s unclear to me what taxpayer money Beatty is worried about here – the loan guarantee is for an ongoing project to build a 550 MW solar energy generator called Desert Sunlight not another panel factory

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Hussein Gardner

    Warren’s next headline: Millionaire Barack Hussein Obama living in taxpayer funded public housing!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jet –

    Nah – Warren wouldn’t be able to get past the slow-jamming of Jimmy Fallon – he’d think it was rap and then he’d have to turn it off before he got infected by the black man’s socialist-nanny-state gay ray that might make him turn a darker shade of dim….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    troll –

    Don’t you get it? Warren’s against millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies or loans for any kind of green energy. If billions of taxpayer-funded subsidies or loans or tax breaks are for Big Oil (and by extension the Ay-rabs who profit off Big Oil), well, that’s different – he’s all for it! But for all-American green energy? Why, that’s simply unAmerican!!!!

  • Baronius

    Warren – I assume that you’re a free-marketeer. Shouldn’t you be celebrating the fact that subsidies are decreasing and prices are coming down?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Warren won’t celebrate anything as long as there’s that black man in the White House. If Obama cured cancer, personally paid off the entire national debt, ended world hunger, and walked on water all the way across the Potomac all on the same day, Warren would still find some way to describe him as an evil Muslim who hates America.

  • Informed

    Troll said “…it’s unclear to me what taxpayer money Beatty is worried about here – the loan guarantee is for an ongoing project to build a 550 MW solar energy generator called Desert Sunlight not another panel factory”
    It should be noted that all the power this Desert Sunlight will create is already under contract to be sold. The profit is small but assured. The result is that the loan guarantee will never be touched and therefore the tax payers will pay………wait for it……..NOTHING!
    As far as subsidies go, the oil companies received over 100 times as much money in one year as the green energy companies combined received ever. The only reason the Chinese companies are even still in business is the Chinese government subsidizes them so heavily to try to undercut the US Solar Panel Market.
    Take away the Chinese subsidies and the oil company subsidies and the solar industry would not need any subsidies either.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Hussein Dreadful

    If Obama cured cancer, personally paid off the entire national debt, ended world hunger, and walked on water all the way across the Potomac all on the same day…

    What’s he doing wasting his time walking across the Potomac? How many jobs is that creating? Meanwhile there’s a small factory in Wisconsin that makes plastic bread ties that he could be rescuing from bankruptcy out of his own pocket! I don’t want my tax dollars wasted on narcissistic water-related miracles!

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Hussein Gardner

    Check out the link I provided in comment three, it says it all about solar power

  • Igor

    Starting up a new industry will result in lots of early failures. Just look at how many auto companies failed before we got to the Big Three.

    Venture capitalists justify it by the enormous rewards from the eventual successes.

    But subsidising a sunset industry like oil is plain foolish.

  • http://rwno.limewebs.com Warren Beatty

    Re: comment # 4, Doc,

    You say, “…that most green energy companies do continue to operate….” You cite Media Matters, an”objective” source if ever I saw one. You (and others) have cast aspersions on sources I cited. Is turn-about fair play?

    You continue, “…the major obstacle facing them is that they are trying to make inroads into a socioeconomic system that is almost entirely structured around fossil fuels. A lot of early car companies failed as well, in part because the system was structured around railroads and shipping.” With those statements I agree, but in no way is that justification for subsidizing an industry.

    You continue, ” “(2) Is anyone at DOE paying any attention to what is happening to First Solar in particular and the green energy market in general?” Yes. They even have a website, energy.gov, all about it. You should take a look at it sometime.” Well, I had a look, and guess what! I found NOTHING about how the DOE is monitroring the green energy market. All I found was a rather self-congratulatory web site. So, Doc, can you help me here?

    You continue, “Since the computer industry is not an energy industry, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the DOE doesn’t subsidize it.” Let’s see, does the government have other agencies besides the DOE?

    You continue, “However, Warren seems to have forgotten that there wouldn’t be a computer industry if the government hadn’t funded its development.” Sources? The first in a series of important code-breaking machines, Colossus, also known as the Mark I, was built under the direction of Sir Thomas Flowers and delivered in December 1943 to the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park, a British government research centre.

    You continue, “That doesn’t mean the federal government is unwilling to provide grants and loans for computing initiatives. Far from it: there’s over half a billion dollars’ worth of them available.” Are you serious? The source you offer provides absolutely no grants for the development of computers.

    Re: comment # 8, Glenn, should we subsidize the solar industry because the Chinese do it? Should we also follow their “one child” policy? Government policy cannot be separated to suit you.

    Re: comment # 19, Baronius, yes, I am quite happy that subsidies are falling.

    Re: comment # 21, Informed, you say, “It should be noted that all the power this Desert Sunlight will create is already under contract to be sold.” Three questions: (1) Who built/ownes Desert Sunlight? (2) Did First Solar receive a subsidy? (3) If the power generated by Desert Sunlight is already sold, why did it receive subsidies to be built?

    You continue, “As far as subsidies go, the oil companies received over 100 times as much money in one year as the green energy companies combined received ever.” Still trying to redefine the meanings of words. Merriam-Webster defines “subsidy” as: c: a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public. Can you offer even one citation of where oil companies received a subsidy?

    You continue, “Take away the Chinese subsidies and the oil company subsidies and the solar industry would not need any subsidies either.” Sources? Or is that your opinion? If it’s your opinion, can I ask you to provide a citation of your expertise on this subject.

    Re: comment # 24, Igor, I agree with all you say. Can you cite even one source where oil companies were subsidized?

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Notice how he skipped over #3? I’m so hurt… Warren “hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” (The Boxer

  • http://brokebackmountaintribute.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Igor, I’ll let you handle the silly question he asked about whether or not the oil companies are subsidized or not.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    You cite Media Matters, an”objective” source if ever I saw one. You (and others) have cast aspersions on sources I cited. Is turn-about fair play?

    Not if you don’t bother to address the source and explain why you’re casting aspersions on it.

    In my case (and that of several others), aspersions were often cast because your source was… you.

    in no way is that justification for subsidizing an industry.

    I didn’t say that it was. (There are plenty of other justifications for that.) My point was that you are in no way justified in gloating over the nascent green energy industry’s struggles.

    Well, I had a look, and guess what! I found NOTHING about how the DOE is monitoring the green energy market. All I found was a rather self-congratulatory web site. So, Doc, can you help me here?

    Well, you know what they say, Warren: “Ask a stupid question…”

    Let’s see, does the government have other agencies besides the DOE?

    Yes, it does. What’s your point, Mr Literal? (Again, “Can anyone cite where the computer industry is being subsidized and/or receiving DOE loans?”)

    You continue, “However, Warren seems to have forgotten that there wouldn’t be a computer industry if the government hadn’t funded its development.” Sources? The first in a series of important code-breaking machines, Colossus…

    …Oh, you’re serious! How about common knowledge? How about researching Harvard Mark II, ENIAC, the Whirlwind-SAGE program, DARPA, and the ARPAnet for starters? I know you can get there: you’re off to a good start, having partially answered your own question immediately after asking it…

    The source you offer provides absolutely no grants for the development of computers.

    The source is a website which advertises software designed to help people get government grants and loans. It lists the categories of aid available. Fifteenth bullet point: “Computer and Information Science and Engineering — $514,880,000 – grants”.

  • Igor

    IMO Warren plagiarized this article.

    I was curious why Warrens incoherent and illiterate essays suddenly acquired polish and, yipes, even citations! So I quickly checked some sample phrases against Google and even used a Plagiarism Checker, and sure enough, his expressions pop up all over the internet.

    For example, check this para1:

    Joel Gehrke Commentary Staff Writer

    First Solar, a solar energy company that received a $1.46 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, announced today that it will layoff 2,000 workers in the United States and world-wide.

    The company will “indefinitely idle” four production lines in Malaysia and shutter a plant in Germany. “These actions, combined with other personnel reductions in Europe and the U.S., will reduce First Solar’s global workforce by approximately 2,000 positions, about 30 percent of the total,” First Solar announced today.

    The plagiarism checker reveals that similar articles are probably siblings rather than antecedents. I suspect that some rightist essayist sends these things out to fellow-travelers whom they can depend on to plant them in various blogs, etc.

    The blogcritics editors should be more careful about this kind of thing.

    For one thing it’s an unattributed verbatim quote and is probably a copyright violation.

    For another, it comes from the famous republican echo chamber and helps make it sound like everybody thinks the Green Energy efforts are failing. It’s an example of Goebbels Big Lie theory.

    Perhaps ironically, Warren signs off with

    “But that’s just my opinion.”

    It’s clear that it’s someone elses opinion that Warren agrees with, but not actually his opinion, arrived at from reading the citations and stated in his words. Warren is just seeking editorial re-enforcement that rationalizes his pre-conceived opinions.

    Maybe the editors should invest $50 in a paid for Plagiarism Checker to avoid lawsuits for copyright infringement.

    I heard that Warren even got an editors award for this article! Wow!

  • troll

    …not much progress on this front I see

    while I didn’t follow your arguments on other threads re what constitutes a subsidy it is clear from this piece that Beatty considers loan guarantees to fall into that category – thus he should look into the Emergency Oil and Gas Guaranteed Loan Program for evidence of government subsidies

    further he should look into the US government/Obama’s administration’s relationships with both Pemex and Petrobras for examples of subsidies in the forms of direct loans as well as loan guarantees for exploration and drilling

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    troll, you’re not following Warren’s reasoning here. If it was given to an oil company, it wasn’t a subsidy. Period.

    :-p