Another solar bust for Obama
Flush another $20 million down the toilet. A North Las Vegas solar company has gone belly up after receiving $6 million in tax credits and another $15 million in grants from the DoE.
Man, these guys can sure pick 'em, can't they?
Officials at Amonix headquarters in Seal Beach, Calif., have not responded to repeated calls for comment this week, but the company began selling equipment, from automated tooling systems to robotic welding cells, in an online auction Wednesday.
A designer and manufacturer of concentrated photovoltaic solar power systems, Amonix received $6 million in federal tax credits for the North Las Vegas plant and a $15.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2007 for research and development.
Rene Kenerly, a former material and supply manager at Amonix, said the plant has been idle since May 1, when he was laid off. At its peak, the plant had about 700 employees working three shifts a day to produce solar panels for a utility in Amarosa, Colo., he said.
"I don't think they had a lot of training," Kenerly said. "There were a lot of quality issues. A lot of stuff was coming back because it had some functionality issues."
The Amonix plant was highly touted by political leaders and economic development officials when it opened in May 2011. Company executives said they would employ as many as 300 assembly line workers paid $12 to $14 an hour, plus benefits.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Gov. Brian Sandoval were among the political leaders who lauded the company when it announced it would start making solar panels in the Golden Triangle Industrial Park. Reid in particular has pushed for solar energy research and development in Nevada, drawing parallels between the value of Nevada sunshine and Saudi Arabian oil.
The Three Stooges could do a better job choosing who to give grant money to than DoE -- if any should be given at all. This was not the fault of the Chinese -- not when product was being returned because it didn't work. This was a management problem, a worker training problem, and a quality control problem.
But mostly, it's a problem of the federal government picking winners and losers and not allowing the market to make that determination.