In “Firm sells solar panels—to itself, taxpayers pay” in the Washington Examiner, Timothy Carney reports that First Solar has received $17.3 million in corporate-welfare subsidies from the Obama administration and then an additional $455.7 million in loan guarantees from the Export-Import Bank to purchase its own solar panels:
A heavily subsidized solar company received a U.S. taxpayer loan guarantee to sell solar panels to itself.
First Solar is the company. The subsidy came from the Export-Import Bank, which President Obama and Harry Reid are currently fighting to extend and expand. The underlying issue is how Obama’s insistence on green-energy subsidies and export subsidies manifests itself as rank corporate welfare.
Here’s the road of subsidies these solar panels followed from Perrysburg, Ohio, to St. Clair, Ontario.
First Solar is an Arizona-based manufacturer of solar panels. In 2010, the Obama administration awarded the company $16.3 million to expand its factory in Ohio—a subsidy Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland touted in his failed re-election bid that year.
Five weeks before the 2010 election, Strickland announced more than a million dollars in job training grants to First Solar. The Ohio Department of Development also lent First Solar $5 million, and the state’s Air Quality Development Authority gave the company an additional $10 million loan.
After First Solar pocketed this $17.3 million in government grants and $15 million in government loans, Ex-Im entered the scene.
In September 2011, Ex-Im approved $455.7 million in loan guarantees to subsidize the sale of solar panels to two wind farms in Canada. That means if the wind farm ever defaults, the taxpayers pick up the tab, ensuring First Solar gets paid.
But the buyer, in this case, was First Solar.
A small corporation called St. Clair Solar owned the wind farm and was the Canadian company buying First Solar’s panels. But St. Clair Solar was a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar. So, basically, First Solar was shipping its own solar panels from Ohio to a solar farm it owned in Canada, and the U.S. taxpayers were subsidizing this “export.” . . .