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Green Graveyard: An In-Depth Look at Government's Bad Bets on 19 Now-Bankrupt Companies

Posted By Rachael Slobodien On November 6, 2012 @ 4:00 pm In Featured | Comments Disabled

[1]

As a follow up to the Green Graveyard overview [2], this post provides additional information concerning the funding for each of the now-bankrupt green energy companies. In one of the most extensive compilations to date, Heritage has identified 19 bankrupt green energy companies that were unable to succeed even with the government’s promise to provide generous financial assistance totaling a whopping $2.6 billion.

1. Abound Solar: George W. Bush’s Administration first offered this Colorado-based company federal assistance in 2007 to the tune of $3 million [3] as well as a $400 million [3] loan guarantee. Before announcing bankruptcy in June 2012 [4], Abound was promised an additional $374.6 million [5] from the Obama Administration. The company was also offered $12.6 million [6] in federal tax credits. During its short-lived heyday, Abound received the distinction of ranking 17th [7] out of “100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America.”

Government’s Bad Bet: $ 790.3 million

2. Solyndra: Despite the fact that Vice President Joe Biden once hailed this now-infamous company and its $535 million loan guarantee [8] as an “unprecedented investment this Administration is making in renewable energy and exactly what the Recovery Act is all about,” Solyndra succumbed to Chapter 11 status in September 2011 [9]. That’s two short years after being offered federal financial assistance. Despite supportive statements and visits from top Obama Administration officials, Solyndra was unable to avoid its fate in the Green Graveyard.

Government’s Bad Bet: $570 million (includes federal loans and state tax breaks [10] not listed)

3. A123 Systems: Having been showered with visits from a host of elected and government officials during the Obama Administration (then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), to name only a few), government funding for A123 actually began in 2001 [11] during the Bush Administration. The company declared bankruptcy in October 2012 [12], a little over one year from the date that President Obama offered this encouraging remark [13]: “There is A123, a clean energy manufacturer in Michigan that just hired its 1000th worker as demand has soared for its vehicle components. Companies like these are taking root and putting people to work in every corner of the country.” And this isn’t the only form of praise A123 received. Secretary Chu [14] called A123 “a great example of how we are working with industries to create jobs, strengthen our manufacturing industry, and help our auto companies compete in the global market.” In fact, A123 is also still listed as a “Hall of Fame” [15] company on the Small Business Innovation Research website.

Government’s Bad Bet: $377.1 million (includes state and federal tax credits, grants, loans, and incentives not listed)

4. Ener1 (EnerDel, subsidiary): Declaring bankruptcy in January 2012 [16], one year to the date of Vice President Biden’s visit, this Indiana-based company was also first offered federal funding during the Bush Administration. During his visit, Biden noted [17], “This Administration is forging a new path forward by making sure America doesn’t just lead in the 21st Century, but dominates in the 21st Century. We’re not just creating new jobs but sparking whole new industries that will ensure our competitiveness for decades to come—industries like electric vehicle manufacturing.” A clear favorite of the Obama Administration, Ener1/EnerDel was ranked 67th out of 100 [7]companies listed in the Administration’s report [7], “100 Recovery Act Projects that Are Changing America.”

Government’s Bad Bet: $182.8 million (includes state and federal assistance not listed)

5. Range Fuels: Range Fuels, a company that attempted to develop a technology to produce biofuels [18], filed for bankruptcy in fall 2011 [19]. In 2007, Range Fuels was offered $76 million [20] from the Bush Administration’s Department of Energy [18]. At the Georgia plant’s groundbreaking, then-Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman praised Range [20] as a “pioneer” that would “reduce our dependence on foreign oil.” In 2009, the Obama Administration also extended an $80 million [21] USDA loan guarantee. In addition to these robust federal funding proposals, the state of Georgia was also willing to put up $6.25 million [22] in the form of a grant.

Government’s Bad Bet: $162.3 million (includes state and federal assistance)

6. Azure Dynamics: After announcing a $5.4 million [23] DOE award [24] in August 2011, Azure filed for bankruptcy roughly six months later in March 2012 [25]. A few months before the DOE grant was announced, Azure was also offered an award from the Government Services Administration totaling approximately $112 million [26]. In addition to these federal government offerings, the state of Michigan also promised incentives like a $1.7 million [27] tax credit. None of these handouts ended up being enough to reverse the company’s fate.

Government’s Bad Bet: $119.1 million

7. Energy Conversion Devices (subsidiary, United Solar Ovanic): In 2006, President Bush [28] visited the company’s Michigan facility and touted the need for the federal government to invest in energy-efficient technologies: “The role of the government at this point is to continue to spend research dollars, to help push technologies forward; is to get these technologies to be even more competitive in the marketplace. And I’m calling on Congress to join us on this most important energy initiative.” While Bush’s presidency ended in 2009, that didn’t stop Congress from heeding his call and authorizing a $13.3 million [29] Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit in 2010. A bipartisan group [30] of Michigan’s congressional delegation, including Senator Debbie Stabenow [29] (D) and Representative Fred Upton [31] (R), also encouraged DOE to consider additional financial assistance for United Solar as well as other companies. Despite $97 million in state and local incentives and credits, Energy Conversion declared bankruptcy in February 2012 [32].

Government’s Bad Bet: $110.3 million (includes additional state incentives not listed)

8. Evergreen Solar: First offered federal assistance from the Clinton Administration in September 2000 [33], this Massachusetts-based company filed for bankruptcy in August 2011 [34], even with the $58.6 million in state subsidies and $26.3 million from the federal government. Garnering much support from the state of Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick [35] (D) took every opportunity to praise Evergreen’s work.

Government’s Bad Bet: $84.9 million         

9. Beacon Power: This Massachusetts-based company was awarded its last grant roughly two months prior to announcing bankruptcy in October 2011 [36]. The Obama Administration offered Beacon large amounts of stimulus grants, including $24 million [37] in December 2009. Beacon’s Stephentown Regulation Services was also offered a $43 million [38] grant. An additional grant totaling $4.2 million [39] came to Beacon via the DOE’s ARPA-E program. The government first began offering federal funding in 2004 [40]. Not wanting to be left out, the state of Pennsylvania awarded Beacon a $5 million grant [41] just two months before the company declared Chapter 11.

Government’s Bad Bet: $77.4 million (includes additional federal subsidies not listed)

10. Raser Technologies: Once again demonstrating the bipartisan nature of this problem, Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT) offered these remarks at Raser’s groundbreaking [42] ceremony in 2008: “Today marks a turning point in our energy future.… New geothermal technology, combined with Raser’s innovative development strategy, can unlock this nation’s vast reserves of geothermal power. If our goal is to reduce greenhouse gases, then increasing our renewable energy production is a must. Utah has one of our nation’s largest geothermal resources, and I’m pleased Raser is setting the pattern for our future.” Senator Hatch’s supportive words and the $33 million grant [43] offered to Raser in 2010 were still not enough to prevent the company from calling it quits in April 2011 [44].

Government’s Bad Bet: $33 million

11. Nordic Windpower: First awarded funding in summer 2009, Nordic Windpower declared bankruptcy in October 2012 [45]. Nordic was offered funding from both state and federal governments, including being awarded with a $3 million [46] Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit as well as a $16 million [47] loan guarantee.

Government’s Bad Bet: $24.6 million (includes state incentives not listed)

12. SpectraWatt: This New York-based company also garnered financial assistance from both federal and state governments. In 2009, the company was awarded a $500,000 [48] National Renewable Energy grant along with an additional $20 million [49] in public subsidies, which includes state funding. Even a visit from Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis [50] and Representative John Hall (D–NY) in spring 2010 wasn’t enough to prevent the company from declaring bankruptcy in August 2011 [48], approximately one year after their visit.

Government’s Bad Bet: $20.5 million

13. Konarka Technologies: Massachusetts-based Konarka, tasked with developing solar panels, is another company that filed for bankruptcy in 2012 [51]—10 years after it was first awarded state [52] and federal [52] funding. From 2002 until 2009, Konarka continued to receive generous awards from entities such as the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust as well as monies from the DOE, among other agencies.

Government’s Bad Bet: $13.6 million (Heritage’s calculations), $20 million according to Konarka’s website

14. Satcon Technology Corporation: A mere three months before declaring bankruptcy in October 2012 [53], Satcon sent out a news release on July 12 titled, “Satcon Named #1 Large-Scale Solar Inverter Supplier in North America [54].” The company’s bankruptcy announcement came after the DOE offered it a $3 million [55] grant. The DOE’s website also lists other grants [56] that include Satcon as a partial recipient. Heritage has made an inquiry to DOE about the exact amounts offered to Satcon.

Government’s Bad Bet: $17 million (includes federal grants not listed)

15. Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company: This Wisconsin company filed for bankruptcy in December 2010 [48]—less than a year after the government offered it $10 million [57] in January 2010. And that’s not the only amount the government was willing to provide to Olsen; the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Cooperative Service also awarded $804,000 [58] to Olsen in 2009.

Government’s Bad Bet: $10.8 million

16. Stirling Energy Systems: Stirling Energy declared bankruptcy in September 2011 [59] after being offered two tax credits [60].

Government’s Bad Bet: $10.5 million

17. Thompson River Power: Attempting to master clean coal technology, Thompson River declared bankruptcy in summer 2012 [61]. This was after being offered a $6.5 million [62] Section 1603 grant from the Department of the Treasury in 2010.

Government’s Bad Bet: $6.5 million

18. Cardinal Fasteners and Specialty: Even the offer of a $480,000 [60] tax credit wasn’t enough to keep Ohio’s Cardinal Fasteners afloat. The company joined the ranks of other wind and green energy companies when it announced bankruptcy on June 30, 2011 [63]. Then-President-elect Obama visited Cardinal a few days before his inauguration in 2009. During his visit he remarked [64], “In some ways you can’t think of a more iconic company than Cardinal Fastener.”

Government’s Bad Bet: $480,000

19. Mountain Plaza: Located in Dandridge, Tennessee, this “truck-stop electrification” endeavor lost its steam (or, more appropriately, “electricity”) when it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2010 [48]. Mountain Plaza received $424,000 [65] from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which doled out $2 million [66] in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program [67]. Despite the fact that Mountain Plaza declared bankruptcy on June 3, the federal grant was awarded 12 days later on June 15 [68], 2010.

Government’s Bad Bet: $424,000   

Elinor Renner, part of the Young Leaders Program at Heritage, contributed to this post.


Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/11/06/green-graveyard-an-in-depth-look-at-governments-bad-bets-on-19-now-bankrupt-companies/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/GreenEnergyGRaveyard.jpg

[2] overview: http://blog.heritage.org../../../../../2012/11/05/green-graveyard-19-taxpayer-funded-failures/

[3] $3 million: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/sunshot/incubator_past.html

[4] June 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/business/energy-environment/abound-solar-says-it-will-file-for-bankruptcy.html?_r=0

[5] $374.6 million: http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIdSur=123771&AwardType=Loan

[6] $12.6 million: http://epoverviews.com/articles/visitor.php?action=search&page=22&start_date=1900-01-01&end_date=2011-03-11&search_newsletter=&keyword=Solar

[7] ranking 17th: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/100-Recovery-Act-Projects-Changing-America-Report.pdf

[8] $535 million loan guarantee: http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/Pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIDSUR=19015&qtr=2010Q4

[9] September 2011: http://www.recovery.gov/News/featured/Pages/Inspectors-General-Continue-Scrutiny-of-Recovery-Programs.aspx

[10] state tax breaks: http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/caeatfa/minutes/2011/20110927.pdf

[11] 2001: http://ir.a123systems.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=403090

[12] in October 2012: http://www.a123systems.com/about-us-asset-purchase-agreement-and-chapter-11-filing.htm

[13] offered this encouraging remark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYSaBP0YZMQ

[14] Secretary Chu: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2011/11/a123_cuts_jobs_at_battery_plan.html

[15] “Hall of Fame”: http://www.sbir.gov/success-story/get-set-go-a123-hall-fame-company

[16] January 2012: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/206777-doe-backed-battery-company-files-for-bankruptcy

[17] Biden noted: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-08/business/ct-biz-0408-battery-transfer--20120407_1_boris-zingarevich-russian-tycoon-battery-technology

[18] biofuels: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/pdfs/ibr_commercial_rangefuels.pdf

[19] fall 2011: http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2011/11/01/range-fuels-website-down-is-bankruptcy-filing-imminent/

[20] $76 million: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704364004576132453701004530.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

[21] $80 million: http://www.epa.gov/air/caaac/mstrs/may2010/10_Hagy.pdf

[22] $6.25 million: http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2011/12/05/the-range-fuels-failure/

[23] a $5.4 million: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/azure-dynamics-wins-doe-award-to-develop-next-generation-traction-inverter-127521153.html

[24] DOE award: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/AdvancedVehiclesTechnologiesAwardsTable_0.pdf

[25] March 2012: http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=24323

[26] $112 million: https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=f9c9e24ecf4be6616865a302bba1187d&tab=core&_cview=1

[27] $1.7 million: http://www.azuredynamics.com/corporate/investor-relations/documents/PR2007-09-19.pdf

[28] President Bush: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2006/02/20060220-2.html

[29] $13.3 million: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/united-solar-ovonic-receives-13-million-manufacturing-investment-tax-credit-from-stimulus-program-82243267.html

[30] bipartisan group: http://kildee.house.gov/2009/05/pr-051909-batteries.shtml

[31] Representative Fred Upton: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/02/club-for-growth-criticizes-upton-solyndra/1#.UJlABWewUws

[32] February 2012: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/14/energyconversion-idUSL2E8DE5M220120214

[33] September 2000: http://usaspending.gov/search?form_fields=%7b%22search_term%22%3A%22Evergreen+Solar%22%7d

[34] August 2011: http://bostonherald.com/business/technology/general/view/2011_0815evergreen_solar_files_for_bankruptcy_plans_asset_sale

[35] Deval Patrick: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/state-subsidized-company-files-bankruptcy-and-heads-to-china/

[36] October 2011: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/31/us-beaconpower-bankruptcy-idUSTRE79T39320111031

[37] $24 million: http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/Pages/RecipientAwardsList.aspx?duns=008260445

[38] $43 million: http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/Pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIDSUR=113090&qtr=2010Q3

[39] $4.2 million: http://usaspending.gov/explore?frompage=assistance&tab=By%20Prime%20Awardee&recipientid=0082604450000&recipientname=BEACON%20POWER%20CORPORATION&comingfrom=searchresults&fiscal_year=all

[40] 2004: https://www.fpds.gov/dbsight/search.do?indexName=awardfull&templateName=1.4.3&s=FPDSNG.COM&q=Beacon+Power+GLOBAL_VENDOR_NAME%3A%22BEACON+POWER+CORPORATION%22

[41] $5 million grant: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aLvfsL6NSqFA

[42] Raser’s groundbreaking: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20080509005585/en/Orrin-Hatch-Helps-Raser-Technologies-Break-Ground

[43] $33 million grant: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2011-10-05/profits-elude-clean-energy-companies/50674030/1

[44] April 2011: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/raser-seeks-chapter-11-with-plan-to-sell-business-2011-05-02

[45] October 2012: http://business-bankruptcies.com/cases/nordic-windpower-usa-inc

[46] $3 million: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/edg/recovery/documents/Recovery_Act_Memo_Idaho.pdf

[47] $16 million: http://www.nordicwindpower.com/pressrelease/NordicDOE070209.pdf

[48] $500,000: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/15/despite-stimulus-funding-solyndra-and-4-other-companies-have-hit-rock-bottom/

[49] $20 million: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/22/business/energy-environment/22PLANT.html?_r=2

[50] Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis: http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101222/BIZ/12220343

[51] 2012: http://www.boston.com/businessupdates/2012/06/04/konarka-files-for-chapter-ceases-operations/afQFI6wU5DKTZbSJkUdJQJ/story.html

[52] state: http://www.konarka.com/index.php/company/our-history/

[53] October 2012: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443684104578062494087211294.html

[54] Satcon Named #1 Large-Scale Solar Inverter Supplier in North America: http://investor.satcon.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=93692&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1712677

[55] $3 million: http://arpa-e.energy.gov/Portals/0/Documents/FundedProjects/Solar%20ADEPT%20Slicks/Satcon_Final.pdf

[56] other grants: http://usaspending.gov/search?form_fields=%7b%22search_term%22%3A%22satcon%22%2C%22spending_cat%22%3A%5b%22g%22%5d%7d&sort_by=dollars&per_page=25

[57] $10 million: http://usaspending.gov/explore?tab=By+Prime+Awardee&typeofview=complete&frompage=assistance&pageno=2&fiscal_year=all&federal_award_id=101149

[58] $804,000: http://usaspending.gov/explore?tab=By+Prime+Awardee&typeofview=complete&frompage=assistance&pageno=1&fiscal_year=all&federal_award_id=101149

[59] September 2011: http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=23880200

[60] tax credits: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Section-48C-Tax-Credits-Allocated-January-7,-2010

[61] in summer 2012: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303644004577523282632904216.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs%3Darticle

[62] $6.5 million: http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/recovery/Documents/O%20Copy%20of%20Section%201603%20List%20of%20Awards.xlsx

[63] June 30, 2011: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2011/06/cardinal_fastener_files_for_ch.html

[64] remarked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B97zqrJSao

[65] $424,000: http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecoveryData/Pages/Recipient.aspx?duns=360729677

[66] $2 million: http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecoveryData/pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIdSur=40106&AwardType=Grants#subawards

[67] National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program: http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecoveryData/pages/RecipientProjectSummary508.aspx?AwardIdSur=40106

[68] June 15: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/million-364546-obama-bankruptcy.html

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