Additionally, Federal Election Commission records made available by the Center for Responsive Politics show that SolarReserve board member James McDermott has contributed $61,500 to various Democratic campaigns since 2008, including $30,800 to Obama’s presidential election campaign.
McDermott’s U.S. Renewable Energy Group has a significant financial stake in SolarReserve, and has drawn scrutiny for its ties with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — and for reportedly driving green jobs to China.
And Lee Bailey, a fellow SolarReserve board member and U.S. Renewables Group investor, has donated $21,850 since 2008 to Democratic candidates including President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, California Sen. Barbara Boxer and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
SolarReserve’s board of directors also includes Jasandra Nyker of Pacific Corporate Group Asset Management, where former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law, Ronald Pelosi, holds a leadership position.
Other data from the Center for Responsive Politics show that SolarReserve paid $100,000 in lobbying fees in 2009 to the Podesta Group. That firm’s principal, Tony Podesta, is the brother of John Podesta — who ran Barack Obama’s presidential transition team.
SolarReserve’s financials are not public since it’s a privately held company, but First Solar provides a more transparent example. That solar energy firm’s stock has lost more than $100 in value since it peaked at $170.80 on Feb. 17, 2011. The company was trading at $65.77 per share Wednesday afternoon.
This market tumble came despite First Solar’s success in winning approximately $2.1 billion in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy. The company announced Wednesday that it would not be able to qualify for a further $1.5 billion loan guarantee before the Sept. 30 deadline.
First Solar founder and Chairman Michael Ahearn, whom Reuters reported cashed in $68.9 million of his company’s stock last month, has donated $123,650, along with his wife, to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates during the three most recent cycles, mostly in Arizona.
The solar energy giant, the nation’s biggest, also spent more than $1.5 million lobbying Congress and the Obama administration since 2009 on the stimulus and subsequent green-jobs plans. This included approximately $400,000 paid to the Washington Tax Group, which also represented Solyndra.
Investment website The Motley Fool reported Wednesday that First Solar faces a potentially bleak future as its technology increasingly is becoming eclipsed by its competitors.
“As [solar] panel costs fall the balance of system costs becomes more important, highlighting First Solar’s current conundrum,” Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium writes. “A less efficient panel requires more land, more labor to install, and more auxiliary components than higher efficiency panels. And with feed-in tariffs now leaning on rooftop installations in Europe, First Solar is now behind the curve.”