published Monday, December 19th, 2011

More layoffs despite 'green energy' subsidies

Yet another "green energy" company heavily subsidized by the federal government has laid off lots of workers -- after previously being heralded as the wave of the future.

A123 Systems, which makes batteries for certain electric cars, got a grant of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars from the federal government's "stimulus" program. The company, which is based in Massachusetts, also got $125 million in incentives from the state of Michigan.

But now it has laid off almost 130 employees at its facilities in Livonia and Romulus, Mich., after one of its main customers, Fisker Automotive in California, sharply reduced its orders to A123. Ironically, Fisker is also heavily subsidized by Washington.

As the Detroit Free Press reported, "The Livonia plant opened in September 2010, heralded by Democratic congressional leaders and then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm as the birth of a new era in advanced manufacturing."

It didn't work out that way. While A123 fortunately has not gone under, it is nowhere near the 5,000 jobs it was supposed to have created in Michigan. And the layoffs make it reminiscent of the recent collapse of California-based solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which got a half-billion-dollar federal loan before declaring bankruptcy. U.S. taxpayers got stuck with the bill for that loan.

Wouldn't it be a refreshing change if Washington got out of the subsidy business and let consumers and companies decide by mutual, free-market agreement what the best, most efficient means are to heat their homes, power their cars and so forth?

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nucanuck said...

The "free market" won't build big hydro power plants or insure nuclear power development or help the coming transition away from diminishing fossil fuels. We have to be wise enough to know when government help is beneficial.

December 19, 2011 at 1:58 a.m.
conservative said...

We know that oil, gas, coal and nuclear meets our energy needs at much cheaper costs than solar and wind. We know this will be the case for many years to come. Lieberals need to come to the same knowledge and recognize that this is a misuse of taxpayer dollars. Taxpayer dollars to reward campaign contributers. Vote the corruptors out!

December 19, 2011 at 9:56 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

Nucanuck, your comment is spot on. Unfortunately we are having to deal with the mindset of small-minded extremist right wingers who think that government is NEVER the solution to any of our problems, especially those on the energy front. To them government is nothing but a dirty word - the equivalent of Satan. They despise government when it strives to work for the good of the nation as a whole but then they count on it to serve their special interests and enforce their narrow views on other people.

It will be a supreme challenge just to overcome the many problems that confront this country, including and perhaps foremost, the development of more far reaching green energy sources. But we have the added burden of having to deal with the anti-government obstructionists who don't want to face the problems head on but ignore them, dispense with government entirely, and just passively wait for the free market to work its "magic."

I think the days of America as a land of innovation and progressive thinking are in our distant past and getting more and more distant every day. We are stagnating and even taking backward steps when we need to be making bold leaps forward. And there is no way to make those bold leaps without the hand of government providing a cohesive plan and moving us forward collectively, as a nation.

December 19, 2011 at 11:19 a.m.

Rickaroo, you're just as extreme as those you attack. So get your house in order before you burn down others.

December 19, 2011 at 2:16 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Those who still believe that the supply of affordable petroleum will last many years without spiraling out of price reach, simply haven't done enough reading to be up to date. theoildrum.com is a valuable resourse with no political bias, that can be very helpful defining where we stand in our oil dominated world.

December 19, 2011 at 3 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

We are all - you included, btg - "extreme" in our opinions. Otherwise we wouldn't be posting comments here. I'm not striving to be above the fray or straddle the fence like some wishy-washy "independents." I know where I stand and I will express my opinion. Don't give me that "get your house in order" crap. My "house" is in no less order than yours or anyone else's. You're as full of BS as anybody.

December 19, 2011 at 3:49 p.m.
Plato said...

"Wouldn't it be a refreshing change if Washington got out of the subsidy business"

Yes and let's start with the billions of dollars in exploration subsidies we provide the big integrated oil companies, and let's quit subsidizing the corn growers to make ethanol which is for the most part a fraud.

December 19, 2011 at 8:17 p.m.
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