It was an investment in a future of clean technologies and clean energy bought with borrowed money, money that was limitless. That was the vision. The truth was that ignorant and incompetent people blew through hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to accomplish the impossible.
Former employees of Solyndra, the shuttered solar company that exhausted half a billion dollars of taxpayer money, said they saw questionable spending by management almost as soon as a federal agency approved a $535 million government-backed loan for the start-up.Solyndra didn't have to earn those loans, it simply sold a utopian vision of the future to credulous and willing buyers. Because the money wasn't earned, spending was free and easy. There would always be more money out there to spend.
A new factory built with public money boasted a gleaming conference room with glass walls that, with the flip of a switch, turned a smoky gray to conceal the room’s occupants. Hastily purchased state-of-the-art equipment ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar, still in its plastic wrap, employees said.
As the $344 million factory went up just down the road from the company’s leased plant in Fremont, Calif., workers watched as pallets of unsold solar panels stacked up in storage. Many wondered: Was the factory needed?
“After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right,” said former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn. “Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy.”
What if Solyndra had survived? What if it had somehow managed to get grants or subsidies or favorable import taxes levied on its Chinese competitors? Would we have bought anything of value?
Well, the goal of the Solyndra investments was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are global. Reducing them a little here while they're increasing hugely elsewhere is worthless. Since China, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, India and the entire developing world in Africa and South America aren't doing a thing to prevent these emissions, the entire Solyndra debacle was pointless even before it started.
Kind of like Eurosocialism where life's bumps and bruises were going to be legislated away, paid for by and endless stream of someone else's money. It's not just that the effort failed in the execution, it's that it was doomed from the start.