Press Blows Off 10-Solyndra Dollar Losses at Two Bankrupt Solar Energy Companies

Solar energy company SunEdison filed for bankruptcy on Thursday. According to Reuters, the company's stock traded as high as $33.44 in July 2015. The stock closed at 22 cents today. Nine years ago, the company's market value was over $17 billion. According to the Associated Press, in July of last year it was still worth $10 billion.

The losses aren't limited to investors, however, a fact that the establishment press has ignored in its SunEdison bankruptcy reports. As Roberty Bryce detailed at National Review on April 4 when the company's bankruptcy began to appear unavoidable, taxpayers have also seen lots of money go down the drain at SunEdison and another bankrupt renewables company — ten times what was lost in the $500 million Solyndra bankruptcy (bolds are mine):

SunEdison’s Subsidy-Fueled Collapse
The company burned no fossil fuels but plenty of taxpayer dollars.

Even $1.5 billion in subsidies and loan guarantees can’t save a “clean” energy company from bankruptcy.

That’s the takeaway from the looming failure of SunEdison, a company that touts itself as the “largest global renewable energy development company.” Once a darling of Wall Street and the green Left because of SunEdison’s portfolio of wind and solar projects, the company’s stock is now in free fall. Furthermore, two related companies that were spun off from SunEdison — TerraForm Global and TerraForm Power — also appear to be in financial distress. On March 30, Brian Wuebbels, the CEO of both TerraForm companies, resigned effective immediately. If all that weren’t enough, the company is also under investigation by both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission about its finances and the disclosures it made to investors.

... Why is SunEdison on the verge of failure? The short explanation is simple: It tried to grow too big, too fast. Over a 19-month period it went on a $2.6 billion acquisition binge. It paid too much for the companies it bought and now it can’t pay back its creditors.

... it’s abundantly obvious that his company’s growth was fueled by hefty federal and state subsidies. That can be seen by looking at Subsidy Tracker, a project of Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit that promotes “corporate and government accountability in economic development.” According to Subsidy Tracker, SunEdison has garnered some $650 million in federal grants and tax credits.

... On top of that, SunEdison also received $846 million in federal loans, loan guarantees, tax-exempt federal bonds, and federal insurance. The total government support for SunEdison comes out to $1.5 billion.

Stories at Reuters, USA Today, the Associated Press, and multiple stories at the New York Times, (the one story returned in a related search, an "everything is still fine in the industry" writeup by Julie Creswell and Diane Cardwell, only mentions industry subsidies in general), all failed to mention the existence of loan guarantees and subsidies the company received.

A Los Angeles Times story by Rob Nikolewski concentrated on two tiny trees while ignoring the forest:

But critics of renewable energy subsidies say federal tax credits, which were extended for solar for an additional five years in a deal hammered out by Congress last December, should come to an end.

The U.S. Department of Energy website showed that SunEdison received $968,120 in a DOE “cooperative award” to take part in the department's SunShot Incubator program, which has funded more than 350 projects aimed at driving down the cost of solar power.

In addition, SunEdison received grants totaling $1.87 million from the federal government's stimulus package.

The $2.84 million Nikolewski recognized is a woefully inadequate 0.19 percent of the $1.5 billion involved in all forms of taxpayer funding.

A Google News search on "SunEdison subsidies" (not in quotes; sorted by date) returns only nine items covering the bankruptcy filing and its aftermath. Besides the New York Times and Los Angeles Times items just mentioned, only three or four others appear to be from establishment press outlets.

National Review's Bryce wasn't done. He also found seven more Solyndra equivalents in taxpayer losses at a company whose bankruptcy was also almost completely ignored three weeks ago:

... Alas, SunEdison isn’t the only example of how federal taxpayers have helped prop up poor management in the “clean energy” sector. Earlier this week, the Spanish energy company Abengoa SA filed for Chapter 15 protection in U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Del., claiming some $16.5 billion in debt. Like SunEdison, Abengoa has been a leading promoter of solar projects in the U.S.

In all, Abengoa got some $2.6 billion in federal loans and loan guarantees as well as $986 million in federal grants and tax credits. Thus, between the collapse of Abengoa and the looming bankruptcy of SunEdison, federal taxpayers have shelled out some $5 billion in direct grants and loan guarantees to lousy management teams in subsidy-dependent businesses that would never have grown to their current size had they not been able to binge on taxpayer cash.

Critics of the federal government’s support for “clean energy” companies have repeatedly claimed that the government shouldn’t be “picking winners.” To that, I can only say that the evidence — from the failed solar company Solyndra and failed battery companies like Ener1 and A123 to SunEdison and Abengoa — proves that the government hasn’t in fact, been picking winners. Quite the opposite.

Indeed. The better take that if the government's picking it, it — and the taxpayers — are almost definitely losers.

Cross-posted at

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