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article imageOp-Ed: U.S. taxpayers see red over green energy loans

By Larry Clifton     Nov 3, 2011 in Politics
One year after the Obama administration issued a $43 million guaranteed loan to a “green energy “firm called Beacon Power Co., the organization has filed for bankruptcy.
Beacon received $43 million during August of last year.
Still, the Obama administration’s controversial Department of Energy (DOE) continues to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to similar green energy companies as part of the President’s $38.6 billion green jobs program.
Increasingly, Americans wonder if the green energy government stimulus program is creating more red ink than green jobs.
For example, who in government determined Beacon Power Company was a sound investment for taxpayers? Where are the transcripts that name names and document the rational of that decision?
Adding insult to taxpayers' injury, DOE officials involved in the similar but far more costly Solyndra scandal restructured that company’s half billion dollar government-guaranteed loan in such a way as to make certain taxpayers were first in line to repay the money Solyndra owes. The company's executives have refused to talk to Congress.
It is unclear how the two startup companies managed to go bankrupt within a year of receiving hundreds of millions in loans guaranteed by taxpayers through the Obama administration, or why the Obama administration found their proposals to be safe investments.
Meanwhile, in less than three years, the Obama administration has expanded the nation’s deficit to levels many experts warn are unsustainable.
According to most major polls, Americans believe the country is definitely on the wrong track and a majority of Americans disapprove of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy.
The Obama administration offered the failing Beacon Power Company the $43 million loan last year for Beacon Power to construct a 20-megawatt flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown, New York. Beacon Power spent $39 million of its government-guaranteed loan to fund its ill-fated $69 million energy storage project.
Two months earlier Solyndra, championed by the President as a “green energy” jobs creator during a widely publicized campaign stop, filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing came less than a year after that company received its $535 million government-guaranteed loan orchestrated by the DOE.
Administration officials are accused of restructuring the Solyndra loan to insure that private investors would be repaid ahead of taxpayers.
The Beacon Power loan requires private investors to repay what they can afford before taxpayers clean up the remainder of that green energy company's debt.
Republicans roundly criticized the Obama administration and DOE over reports that Obama campaign donors were investors in Solyndra and played a role in restructuring the loan so private investors would be repaid ahead of taxpayers. The White House and DOE have denied any wrongdoing.
Beacon Power Co. officials cited an inability to raise funds to back its project in its Chapter 11 filing despite receiving its $43 million government loan. Some are questioning why a company that received a $43 million government-guaranteed loan just one year ago is citing lack of funding as a reason for filing bankruptcy.
The Beacon Power filing listed $72 million in assets and $47 million in debts — including some $3.5 million that Beacon Power still owes on its state loan. The company continues to operate at a loss, and the bankruptcy filing is Beacon Power Corp, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-13450.
At least four other companies have received stimulus funding only to later file for bankruptcy, including two working on alternative energy.
Evergreen Solar Inc., reportedly received $5.3 million of stimulus cash through a state grant to install 11,000 photovoltaic panels at 11 colleges and universities, a recycling facility and an education center in Massachusetts.
Evergreen recently filed for bankruptcy blaming Chinese rival competition. Now the company plans to manufacture in China.
SpectraWatt, of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., another solar cell company, received a $500,000 grant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as part of the stimulus package. SpectraWatt was supposed to help develop ways to improve solar cells without changing the current manufacturing processes.
Recently the company filed for bankruptcy saying it could not compete against Chinese companies.
The White House, stung by the President’s declining poll numbers during an election year, announced last week that Wall Street veteran Herb Allison will conduct an independent review of the Energy Department's loan portfolio during the next 60 days and issue a public report on how to improve the program.
"This latest failure is a sharp reminder that DOE has fallen well short of delivering the stimulus jobs that were promised, and now taxpayers find themselves millions of more dollars in the hole," said Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee's probe.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu is scheduled to testify before a house committee at a November 17 hearing to defend the green stimulus program.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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