Let’s follow up on the progress of our President’s brilliant “investments” in “green energy,” which have mostly ended in horrible failures and bankruptcy. Obama wanted us to give $2.1 billion of our hard-earned money to Solar Trust of America, which undertook the Blythe Solar Power Project in California, a 1,000-megawatt fountain of morally superior solar energy.
Thankfully, Solar Trust CEO Uwe T. Schmidt turned down the offer, citing “very sound business reasons.” Specifically, as the Washington Post noted in a September 2011 article, he was worried that “the influx of inexpensive flat solar panels was undercutting his company’s year-old proposal to use a field of parabolic mirrors that focus the sun’s energy to heat liquid-containing tubes.”
Why not take the federally guaranteed Obama bucks and just switch technologies? Well, “the terms of the federal loan guarantee wouldn’t let Solar Trust switch in midstream to flat panels,” so they got private financing. Think about that for a moment.
Incidentally, you might have gathered from the CEO’s name that Solar Trust of America isn’t actually an American company. It’s an Oakland-based subsidiary of a German corporation called Solar Millennium AG, which owns 70 percent of Solar Trust. (The other 30 percent is held by another German concern called Ferrostaal AG.) Sadly, the “solar millennium” appears to have ended 988 years early, as Solar Trust’s parent company has launched insolvency proceedings in Germany.
Nevertheless, the Blythe Solar Power project was hailed as a “keystone” achievement in President Obama’s efforts to Win The Future by harvesting the majority of America’s energy from “green” sources within the next 25 years. (Apparently offering a $2.1 billion subsidy gets you some soapbox time.) Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hailed the Blythe Solar Power Project as “proof we are meeting our ambitious goals.”
While he mourned a nation that “went to sleep in the 1980s” (you know, the decade when we had jobs and growth and stuff) Salazar was delighted that we were finally “reawakening to the reality that we can power the energy security of America forward, and today’s example here with the largest solar facility in the United States of America is one of those milestones we can all celebrate.”
California Governor Jerry Brown didn’t wait to start those celebrations. He was positively giddy at the ground-breaking ceremony. “This is a really a very important day to be in California, where the world’s largest solar project is commencing. This is really big!” he chirped, bringing us close to the level of Big Government ecstasy that Vice President Joe Biden classifies as a Big Effing Deal. “Today we’re looking out at the possibility of unimagined wealth that can be produced with cooperation, risk-taking government assistance and hard old-fashioned work of manufacturing transportation and all the other stuff that goes into making things happen.”
Ah, the “unimagined wealth” of crony capitalism! Forever it glitters in the fevered imagination of the statist… but how often it turns to bankruptcy, leaving the taxpayers with lighter wallets and heavier hearts!
Such was the case with Solar Trust of America, which filed bankruptcy on Monday, in accordance with the standard life-cycle of “green energy” corporations that lack an umbilical connection to the American taxpayer. It’s not a gentle bankruptcy, either. As Reuters reports, Solar Trust ran out of “liquidity” after Solar Millennium went belly-up. Solar Millennium tried to sell the American company off to another German “green energy” company… but then they went bankrupt.
Other companies are now looking to pick useful assets from Solar Trust’s bones, but there’s a problem: when Solar Trust filed for bankruptcy in Delaware, it estimated “as much as $10 million of assets, and between $50 billion and $100 million of liabilities.” How does that even happen? “Green energy” may not produce much useful energy, but it certainly does have formidable powers of financial destruction.
Naturally, the crony capitalist engine will learn absolutely nothing from this disaster, or any of the others they have inflicted on us. Solar Millennium CEO Schmidt wrote a retrospectively hilarious op-ed in the Huffington Post last September, in which he sternly cautioned us to avoid drawing any conclusions from the Solyndra debacle. “Indeed, despite the posturing and finger-pointing, the American solar energy industry is alive and well. I should know,” Schmidt wrote, six months before he became the proud overseer of a titanic financial disaster, and the “finger-pointers” were proven right once again.
But fear not! Local authorities are confident somebody, somewhere will come forward to finish the Blythe Solar Power project, and if Barack Obama is re-elected, you can bet your bottom dollar that he’ll give your bottom dollar to another politically-favored project, while a chorus of Administration officials sing the exact same hosannas to sustainable energy and job creation they offered, back when they were trying to stuff two billion of your dollars into Solar Trust’s coffers.
Update: Thanks to Weejad on Twitter for reminding me not to confuse my centuries and millennia. The solar millennium ended 998 years early, not 98! Time flies when you’re going bankrupt.