The October bankruptcy of solar company Satcon Technology Corp. puts the number of bankrupt or troubled green energy companies as high as 50, according to one estimate.
During the first presidential debate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said the Obama administration had doled out $90 billion to green energy companies, half of which he said had failed, which sparked a media-wide debate over the accuracy of the claim.
The Romney campaign later clarified that he was talking about the DOE’s 1705 loan program which doled out $16.1 billion to green energy companies, according to the Washington Post. Of the 33 companies that received 1705 loan guarantees, only three have declared bankruptcy.
However, when other subsidies, outside of the 1705 loan guarantees are factored in, the number of government-backed green energy failures is much higher.
The blog Green Corruption’s “Obama green-energy failure” list contains 23 bankrupt and 27 troubled green energy companies which were backed by the federal government. This list uses data compiled by the Heritage Foundation, but also includes some things the conservative think tank doesn’t.
According to the Heritage Foundation, $80 billion was set aside in the 2009 stimulus package for clean energy loans, grants, and tax credits, and 10 percent of these funds have gone to companies that have filed for bankruptcy or are in dire straits.
The Green Corruption estimates are on the high end as others have total number of bankrupt and troubled green energy firms much lower.
The Heritage Foundation’s list contains 34 companies that have either filed for bankruptcy or are faltering as of October 18. Of those 34 listed, nineteen have filed for bankruptcy and fifteen are considered faltering.
The Heritage list only contains companies that received federal funds from the Obama administration’s Energy Department and other agencies, and does not include “other state, local, and federal tax credits and subsidies,” which would raise the amount of taxpayer dollars that was given to these companies.
Another list compiled by the Senate Republican Policy Committee shows a total of 19 government-backed green energy companies that have either gone bankrupt, are in distress, or failing — twelve bankrupt, six in distress, and one failing.
The committee’s list, however, does not include the most recent green energy failure, Satcon Technology Corp., which received a $3 million DOE grant earlier this year and filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 17, making it the second green energy company to file for bankruptcy that week.
Electric car battery manufacturer and recipient of a $249 million loan guarantee, A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy the day before.
“And in one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world,” Romney said during the first presidential debate. “But don’t forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right?”
“And these businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business,” Romney added. “A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.”
According to the White House, the stimulus package funneled more than $90 billion in government funds and tax incentives towards “clean” energy, including $29 billion for energy efficiency, $21 billion for renewable energy generation, $6 billion for advanced batteries and parts for advanced vehicles and fuel technologies, and $2 billion in clean energy manufacturing tax credits to make wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, and other domestic clean energy equipment.
More spending on green energy may be down the road as the Brookings Institute reports that the federal government will spend more than $150 billion between 2009 and 2014 — three times as much as was spent between 2002 and 2008.
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