The Year Solar Goes Bankrupt – John Ransom – Townhall Finance Conservative Columnists and Financial Commentary

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The Year Solar Goes Bankrupt – John Ransom – Townhall Finance Conservative Columnists and Financial Commentary.

Get ready for a new round of green bankruptcies, as Europe trims back subsidies for solar companies and taxpayers lose their appetite for subsidizing green power.

“The mini-bubble resulting from the rush to cash in on solar subsidies in European and U.S. markets is ending, as feed-in tariffs drop in Europe while loan guarantee and tax credit programs tighten up in the U.S.,” says a new report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch according to CNBC.com.

Germany is dialing back subsidies for solar this month by 29 percent with subsequent decreases each month, according to Bloomberg.com.

Rasmussen has recently released a survey of voters that show a diminishing number of voters support subsidizing the production of the Chevy Volt.

Only 29 percent of likely voters agree with Obama’s latest proposal to include a $10,000 subsidy in the federal budget to support the purchase of every electric vehicle.

The survey found that 58 percent oppose the plan, while 13 percent remain undecided.



And make no mistake, without subsidies solar, electric vehicles, wind power and other alternatives remain a chimera.      

 “Steven Cortes, CNBC contributor and founder of Veracruz Research, also sees solar stocks declining further and wonders about the impact of the recent natural gas boom on the sector.

“’As much as I love sun, I hate the solar space. This is not a real business, it’s a political construct,’” Cortes said on Fast Money Wednesday. “’And they can’t compete with natural gas at these levels.’”

According to the Associated Press the U.S. now has 2.433 trillion cubic feet in storage.

“That figure is 48.3 percent more than the five-year average, the Energy Department said,” reports the AP. “Natural gas fell 3 cents to finish at $2.27 per 1,000 cubic feet in New York. The price has fallen about 27 percent this year and is at the lowest level in a decade.”

Last week Abound Solar announced it would lay off half its workforce despite receiving a $400 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy last year. The rating agency Fitch’s hit Abound over failures to meet stated goals, old technology, calling the company “highly speculative” according to ABCNews.

Reports ABC:

It remains way too early to determine whether Abound is poised to follow the trajectory of the best-known solar manufacturer to receive a sizeable government loan — Solyndra, the California firm that filed for bankruptcy in September after having burned through the bulk of its $535 million federal loan.

Perhaps.

However, there is an old saying in the market that the tape doesn’t lie.

And the tape on solar companies is horrendous.

In the second quarter of 2008 First Solar (Symbol: FSLR) briefly touched $300 per share. Today it trades at $27.49. That equals losses of about $24 billion in market capitalization in just four years.

In April of last year Trina Solar LTD (Symbol: TSL) was trading just under $30 and is now trading at about $7.31. Earnings estimates have gone in the last few months from Trina losing about 17 cents per share for 2012 to losing about 63 cents per share.

The Guggenheim Solar ETF (Symbol: TAN) has also moved down from around $300 per share in mid 2008, until it trades now at $27.02.

And the fundamentals aren’t getting better for solar soon, because solar can’t compete with coal-fired or nuclear generated electric.

“Fewer solar panels will be installed this year,” reports Bloomberg “as the first drop in more than a decade worsens a glut of the unsold devices that’s already slashed margins at the top five manufacturers, an analyst survey showed… Without government incentives, even record low prices for solar panels may not be cheap enough to encourage solar farm developers and homeowners to install them in the volumes needed to work through the glut, said Rozwadowski, the most pessimistic analyst in the survey. He expects installations to drop to 20.7 gigawatts.”

It’s important to note that the poor performance of the solar industry came at a time when government financial support has been at an all-time high world-wide. It only goes to show that politics and public policy are poor substitutes for free market economics.  

Expect the solar industry to continue to crash and burn as government money continues to dry up along with public support.   

Colorado’s Own Green Loan Sinkhole – Michelle Malkin – Townhall Conservative Columnists

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Colorado’s Own Green Loan Sinkhole – Michelle Malkin – Townhall Conservative Columnists.

There’s no escaping Solyndra Syndrome. Here in my home state of Colorado, citizen journalists have uncovered our own gaping government green loan sinkhole. The stench of Chicago-on-the-Potomac is fouling the fresh Rocky Mountain air.

Meet Loveland-based Abound Solar, the lucky winner of a $400 million federal loan guarantee from the Obama administration. Earlier this month, the thin-film cadmium telluride solar module-maker announced layoffs of nearly 300 employees (70 percent of its workforce). In addition, the firm froze plans to build a new factory in Indiana. Abound says it will ride out bad market conditions and “hopefully” survive until the market recovers.

But White House hope-a-nomics is what got Abound and taxpayers into trouble in the first place.

Back in 2010, President Obama promised America in his weekly radio address that Abound would “manufacture advanced solar panels at two new plants, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.” Energy Secretary Steven Chu waves his green pom-poms, too. “Not only is this investment creating thousands of jobs, but it is also increasing our renewable energy manufacturing capacity and putting us on the path for our future prosperity.”

Like the rosy projections Obama and Chu used to justify pouring half-a-billion dollars in eco-subsidies down the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar drain, Abound’s financial outlook was based on mathematical make-believe. Hope plus change equals fail. Turns out Abound raked in green government funds despite big red flags from Fitch Ratings.

GOP House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa wrote: “Fitch describes Abound as lagging in technology relative to its competitors, failing to achieve stated efficiency targets, and expecting that Abound will suffer from increasing commoditization and pricing pressures. DOE’s willingness to fund Abound, despite these concerns, calls into question the merits of this loan guarantee.”

The financial mess was reported by ABC News, but the Obama administration has so far escaped real scrutiny of his crony venture socialism.

How were Fitch’s warnings ignored? Thanks to the intrepid investigative work of Colorado’s Todd Shepherd at CompleteColorado.com, Amy Oliver at the Independence Institute and Michael Sandoval at the People’s Press Collective blog, the crass political science driving this latest Department of Energy loan scandal has been exposed. The loan deal appears to be textbook “pay-for-play” between Team Obama and one of Colorado’s wealthiest progressive activist scions, Pat Stryker. She’s the billionaire heiress whose family founded a medical device and software company. Her investment firm, Bohemian Companies, dumped nearly $500 million into Democratic coffers between 2008 and 2012. Bohemian also invested considerably in Abound.

Colorado Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey, a backer of job-killing cap-and-trade policies and other stifling environmental regulations, pushed for the massive Abound DOE loan. As CompleteColorado.com noted, Stryker donated personally to Markey’s campaign, and Abound ran ads thanking Markey for her eco-radical voting record. Like Solyndra chief investor George Kaiser, Stryker has visited the White House on more than one occasion. Like Kaiser, Stryker is a top Obama bundler.

This week, CompleteColorado.com obtained a new set of documents revealing “that Abound Solar created an unexpected, and previously unreported 10 day production shutdown over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and then went on to tell employees, ‘Don’t let the rumor mill create false purposes for this shutdown.’ The shutdown was announced to employees just after Thanksgiving by company president Craig Witsoe.”

On Thursday, Chu refused to tell House lawmakers and the public how many more DOE solar boondoggles are at risk of going under. He couldn’t “recall the exact number.” Funny how fraudulently exact they can be in cooking up jobs numbers, but how chronically amnesiac they are when it all blows up.

Hope-a-nomics: It’s every green bundler’s paradise and every taxpayer’s nightmare.

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