Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Solyndra Looks Like a Good Deal Compared to This

Whether you are a bigger-government liberal or a constitutionalist conservative you can probably appreciate a spectacularly risky investment of taxpayer dollars when you see it.

At least I hope that's the case. If not, America is in more trouble than I thought, and I'm no optimist on the subject.

Despite the colossal waste of more than half a billion dollars in the recently bankrupt Solyndra -- I'll leave the who-knew-what-and-when debate for another time -- the Department of Energy has since shoved another more than $6 billion in money borrowed from China out the door to other struggling "green energy" companies under the guise of creating jobs.

This is not news; the government told us it was doing this. How did Einstein define insanity? Well, let's not dwell on that here either.

Among those companies enjoying the administration's most recent largesse is one SunPower Corp., a San Jose-based firm.

Ostensibly SunPower earned the government's attention with its plans to erect a 320,000 sq-ft manufacturing plant to build solar panels and a solar-panel ranch near San Luis Obispo, Calif. for producing solar power.

With me so far?

Depending on your degree of support for such projects, you may well think that if the government is hellbent on funneling money to green industries, SunPower Corp. seems like a fine place to start. It received $1.2 billion in the administration's latest rush to create green jobs.

For the math-challenged, that's more than double the money flushed down the Solyndra commode.

But here's the thing...

SunPower isn't an American company. Controlling interest (60%) is owned by the French company Total Oil. If and when the taxpayer loan is repaid, profits from these enterprises will be reinvested in France.

The 320,000 sq-ft plant -- and however many manufacturing jobs might be created -- is being constructed in Mexico, not the U.S..

Its planned solar ranch in Calif. hasn't cleared the environmental-impact gauntlet and probably won't; nothing ever does in Calif.

Finally, SunPower has more debt than assets and appraised worth. In other words, it is, or was before the administration stepped in, broke.

Oh, and did I mention it is being sued by several investors -- including some retirement funds -- for misrepresentation and fraud?

If somehow SunPower manages to stay in business and repay the $1.2 billion in taxpayer loans, then no harm, no foul. We will have been on the hook for $1.2 billion to basically create fewer than 20 permanent jobs at the planned solar ranch.

Let's see, $1.2 billion divided by 20...well, I'll let you do the math. But in my book, that's an awful lot of risk for very little potential return.

Of course, the more likely scenario will have SunPower going the way of Solyndra.

But what the hey? It's only our money, right?

1 comment:

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