Solar company faces dark days ahead

Katy Grimes: The day after the election, the Los Angeles Times reported that Solyndra Inc., a solar power system manufacturing company in the San Francisco Bay area, is closing one of its factories, laying off 40 employees and letting the contracts for more than 150 temporary workers expire.

It’s hard not to question the timing of this information.

Even with substantial government subsidies, credits and loan guarantees, many are wondering if Solyndra enticed by the Schwarzenegger administration and/or opponents of Prop 23 to keep the news of the downsize quiet until after Tuesday’s election, in order to guarantee failure of the proposition. It certainly appears so.

The Times reported Solyndra had received “a $535-million federal loan guarantee, more than $1 billion in private equity funds and supportive visits from dignitaries such as  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Vice President joe Biden and President Barack Obama.”

Backers of AB32, California’s overreaching 2006 global warming act, promised green jobs for everyone. The governor has been an aggressive, vocal proponent of the green industry in California – a position that now only looks like an attempt to gain a legacy – any legacy.

Proponents of Prop. 23, the ballot initiative that would have suspended AB 32 until California unemployment drops to 5.5 percent, have been warning that California’s manufacturing jobs are leaving the state due to business-stifling regulations in the state, and that China has become a formidable competitor.

And now suddenly it’s news that a large, publicly subsidized solar manufacturer is scaling back?

Joe Vranich, a California Business Relocation Coach, has been keeping track of the companies leaving the state, including many solar manufacturers who have been relocating to Oregon, Georgia  and other business-friendly states.

By October 12, Vranich had counted 158 companies leaving California, which is more than three times the total of 2009. Read through Vranich’s list and notice how many of the companies are green-tech companies.

It’s more than just a downsizing for Solyndra – it’s a slap in the face to the Department of Energy. The DOE used Solyndra as an example of a company benefitting from the stimulus package and loan-guarantee program, expecting that it would create green jobs. It was a very expensive program built on hope and change.

Is anyone in California listening?

NOV. 5, 2010

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