The lies, waste, fraud and incompetence involved in Obamacare have been getting a lot of ink and deservedly so. But while Americans watch the health hokum unfold they should not forget fallout from the federal stimulus. Consider, for example, the fortunes of Abound Solar.
In 2010 Barack Obama praised the company as an excellent investment in “clean” energy and his administration duly backed it up with a loan of $400 million, nearly half a billion tax dollars. According to the president, Abound would make advanced solar panels at plants in Colorado and Indiana creating 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs. The plants would “produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year.” In 2012, however, Abound laid off 400 workers and declared bankruptcy. The losses to taxpayers amount to $40-60 million but the damage does not stop there.
The company left contaminated facilities that will cost $3.7 million to clean up according to the Northern Colorado Business Report.
Abound “had a history of defective products and equipment problems, and repeatedly missed revenue and production goals.” A full 2,000 pallets of solar panels were deemed “unsellable” and their fate “remains unclear.” Some 90 pallets of panels contain “unknown hazardous waste” and the facility abounded in cadmium-contaminated water, glass and wipes.
Abound is the not the first clean-energy company to get big bucks from the federal Department of Energy then go bankrupt. California-based Solyndra got a federal loan of $528 million and Beacon Power, based in Massachusetts, got loan guarantees of $43 million. And don’t forget Ener1, a favorite of vice-president Joe Biden which in 2009 got $118 million from the Department of Energy.
Solyndra left behind millions of glass tubes used in solar panels. The bankruptcy court ruled that the tubes had no value but two architects used them in “SOL Grotto,” an “architectural sculpture” at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley. The designers know that SOL means something ending with “out of luck.” Actually, taxpayers are truly SOL on the whole stimulus package, including the ongoing Abound mess. Even in the quest for clean energy, government financial waste can easily lead to hazardous waste.