The “clean energy” picture is becoming clearer with each passing day and it continues to be an ugly one for taxpayers.
As we’ve known for ages the federal government’s massive investment in clean energy companies has been a bust for U.S. taxpayers (see Solyndra; Evergreen).
But in the case of A123 Systems of Watertown, well, it turns out one country’s folly may be another country’s fortune – in this case, China’s.
We were assured by starry-eyed politicians that companies like A123, a Watertown-based advanced battery maker, were so vitally important to our economic future that they warranted massive government investments. So A123 got a $249 million federal stimulus grant. The Patrick administration dropped another $5 million on A123 from the state’s clean energy fund in exchange for a promise of 250 jobs in the state.
But the air came out of the balloon almost immediately. A123 has struggled to stay afloat. In July the company said it had only enough cash to stay open for four to five months.
Now a lifeline has surfaced, in the form of a Chinese auto parts manufacturer willing to invest up to $450 million in exchange for up to an 80 percent ownership stake.
And while we’re happy for the employees who won’t lose their jobs (well, yet), this means that a company that was largely financed with stimulus funds borrowed from the Chinese will now become nearly a wholly owned subsidiary of a Chinese company.
Please, don’t anyone go hoarse with the “USA!” chants . . .
Of course A123 wasn’t the only clean energy company winning lavish support from the green caucus. When it comes to Cape Wind it seems the support went all the way up to the West Wing.
Emails released this week indicate President Barack Obama personally reviewed a request from Cape Wind for a $2 billion Department of Energy loan, and that DOE officials mulling the request were informed the project was “important to the president.”
The loan didn’t come through, but opponents of the project remain convinced that a “pattern of political influence” led to federal agency approvals for Cape Wind. Their suspicions are entirely warranted. Politicians are being seduced at every turn by green energy sirens who whisper the promise of new jobs and tax revenue in their ears while relieving the Treasury of more cash.
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