More layoffs despite 'green energy' subsidies

More layoffs despite 'green energy' subsidies

December 19th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

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?