Another Green Boondoggle Folds


Gee, who coulda predicted this?

Evergreen Solar Inc., the Massachusetts clean-energy company that received millions in state subsidies from the Patrick administration for an ill-fated Bay State factory, has filed for bankruptcy, listing $485.6 million in debt.

Evergreen, which closed its taxpayer-supported Devens factory in March and cut 800 jobs, has been trying to rework its debt for months. The cash-strapped company announced today has sought a reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware and reached a deal with certain note holders to restructure its debt and auction off assets.

The Massachusetts Republican Party called the Patrick administration’s $58 million financial aid package, which supported Evergreen’s $450 million factory, a “waste” of money.

“The bankruptcy of Evergreen Solar is another sad event for the Massachusetts company and highlights the folly of the Patrick-Murray Administration which has put government subsidies into their pet projects instead of offering broad based relief to all Bay State employers,” said Jennifer Nassour, head of the state GOP.

Well, anyone familiar with market economics probably could have… if there was enough demand to keep a company like this afloat, it would already exist, and without government subsidies. In fact, if government has to subsidize something, that’s a pretty good clue that it’s not something that’s really profitable in the marketplace.

However, even while they’re cutting jobs in the US and Europe, they are creating jobs… in China!

Evergreen — hurt by lower-cost competition in China and plummeting prices for solar panels — also said it will cut more jobs — 65 layoffs in the United States and Europe, mostly through the shutdown of its Midland, Mich., manufacturing facility. That would leave Evergreen with about 68 workers according to a head count listed in the bankruptcy filing.

To cut costs, Evergreen shifted some of its production to Wuhan, China, last year. That joint venture will remain operating subject to financing talks with Chinese investors.

Kinda like another “green boondoggle” that was good for China.

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About Conservative Wanderer

Conservative Wanderer is currently Editor-in-Chief of That's Freedom You Hear! That means anything that goes wrong can be blamed on him. Previously he was a contributor to the PJ Tatler.

5 responses to “Another Green Boondoggle Folds”

  1. Nick Kellingley says :

    As much as I tend to agree that subsidies are usually an indication that a business area is not up to the task, in the case of solar it’s recently moved into a new phase of costing which makes it profitable in its own right if manufacturing costs can be kept low. US investment should have been for research in two areas – 1. increased effectiveness of panels (current yields are in the 15-20% range at best), 2. storage technologies (which are desperately needed in solar). It should always have been recognised that given the Chinese government’s investment in new energy technology that production and manufacturing was going to be cheaper (much cheaper) in Asia and the money spent playing to American strengths (world class R&D) rather than weaknesses (relatively high labour costs for relatively straightforward manufacturing jobs).

    • Conservative Wanderer says :

      Very true, but we should be careful not to throw good money after bad.

      Consider, Henry Ford developed the automobile without government subsidies. The Wright Brothers figured out how to fly without needing the government’s help. Thomas Edison didn’t need a federal grant to develop the lightbulb.

      In more recent history, Amazon, Google, Netflix… these didn’t need taxpayer dollars to take an idea and run with it.

      If all these ideas can be developed without government money, I see no reason why solar technology can’t continue to develop without our tax dollars, especially with the US economy as deep in debt as it is right now. If we were flush with money, maybe… but as broke as we are right now, it just makes no sense.

      • Nick Kellingley says :

        All of this is true – but when the rest of the world is subsidising its markets, the US either plays the same game or gets left behind. The US is the 3rd largest provider of subsidies after China and Germany, the question is are the US people content to get left behind completely on solar?

        There’s a lot of money to be made in the long run once efficiency and storage are sorted, and the patents alone should return enough cash globally to make the subsidies look like small potatoes in the long run.

        But one thing’s for sure VC money won’t touch programs that aren’t directly competitive which means if other nations subsidise you play the same game, or you change sports.

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