President Barack Obama examines a solar panel with Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet (right) and Executive Vice President Ben Bierman, during a tour of Solyndra. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Another stimulus-backed solar panel maker, one the president touted in a weekly radio address, is filing for bankruptcy. The administration's green-energy efforts continue to grow a deeper shade of red.
After receiving some $70 million in federal loans, Abound Solar, a Colorado-based firm that was developing thin-film solar panels, has announced it will follow an earlier Obama administration green energy failure, Solyndra, into bankruptcy.
Like Solyndra, Abound's bankruptcy is a bitter echo of the hype generated by President Obama in his weekly radio address exactly two years ago when he touted his push for a clean energy economy. Abound Solar, he said, would manufacture advanced solar panels at two new plants, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs at plants in Indiana and Colorado.
Abound apparently wasn't even helped by last July's $9.2 million Export-Import Bank loan to support exports of thin-film solar photovoltaic modules to Punj Lloyd Solar Power Ltd., a company in India building a 5-megawatt solar project located on a 62.5-acre site near the village of Bap.
Three years ago, when Obama's Department of Energy started approving roughly $16 billion in federal loan guarantees for solar energy companies, the DOE agreed to put taxpayers' money behind startups that were working on ways to make solar panels cheaper. Two, Solyndra and Abound, have now gone belly-up.
The other two solar manufacturing companies with loan guarantees, SoloPower and 1366 Rechnologies, have not actually borrowed any taxpayer money so far. This is probably a good thing as solar energy's promise is eclipsed by a real energy boom in oil and natural gas from shale. It is also fortunate for taxpayers that Abound drew only $70 million out of a $400 million line of credit.
In a January report, Sheryl Attkisson of CBS News counted at least 12 clean-energy companies that were having trouble after collectively being approved for more than $6.5 billion in federal assistance. Five had filed for bankruptcy: the junk bond-rated Beacon Power, Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, AES subsidiary Eastern Energy and the now-infamous Solyndra. Now we have a sixth — Abound Solar.
Ener1, maker of batteries that were supposed to power Obama's electric car fleet, filed for bankruptcy in January. Just as American tax dollars have gone to subsidize electric cars made in Finland by Fisker Automotive, state-of-the-art battery technology developed by Ener1 that was also supposed to rejuvenate the American auto industry is now owned outright by Boris Zingarevich, a Russian businessman with ties to former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.