President Obama, as part of his “we can’t wait” for congressional approval initiative, announced that the Office of Management and Budget will expedite approval of a Nevada project owned by a solar company with a history of using taxpayer subsidies to sell products to itself.
First Solar’s “Silver State South Solar Energy project is a solar energy generation plant proposed on 13,043 acres of public land,” the White House said in an announcement of the initiative. “If approved, it would produce an estimated 350 MW of clean energy utilizing photovoltaic technology– enough to power approximately 105,000 homes – and help the State of Nevada meet its renewable energy goals.”
This is a company that, as The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney reported, relies on taxpayer subsidies while selling products to itself.
“In September 2011, [the Export-Import Bank] approved $455.7 million in loan guarantees to subsidize the sale of solar panels to two solar farms in Canada. That means if the solar farm ever defaults, the taxpayers pick up the tab, ensuring First Solar gets paid,” Carney explained.”A small corporation called St. Clair Solar owned the solar farm and was the Canadian company buying First Solar’s panels. But St. Clair Solar was a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar. So, basically, First Solar was shipping its own solar panels from Ohio to a solar farm it owned in Canada, and the U.S. taxpayers were subsidizing this ‘export.’”
First Solar is heavily subsidized by the Energy Department. as it received three loan guarantees worth almost $3 billion combined — all for projects that should not have been eligible for the loan guarantees.
“Those projects are not particularly innovative, which is required for the type of federal loan they got, according to the report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,” as USA Today reported.
The company also recently laid off 2,000 employees and replaced its Chief Executive Officer, although it bounced back from a 12 percent loss in the first quarter to an 80 percent increase in second quarter earnings.