The high cost to taxpayers of government subsidies for impractical "green energy" programs hit home once again recently. A California solar panel manufacturer that had received more than half a billion dollars in "stimulus" loan guarantees from the federal government is filing for bankruptcy.
Ironically, President Barack Obama had visited the company, Solyndra LLC, just last year to praise its role in meeting our nation's energy needs. He said at the time of his visit to the now-failed company, "The future is here," and The Associated Press said the company was once seen as "the poster child for government investment in green technology."
But the public was obviously less enthusiastic about the products made by the subsidized company than the president was. Now the company is shutting down and laying off more than 1,000 workers -- and taxpayers are out hundreds of millions of dollars.
"In an apparent rush to push stimulus dollars out the door, the Obama administration wasted $535 million in taxpayer funds in guaranteeing a loan to a firm that has proven to be unviable in the global market," Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., told The New York Times.
Unfortunately, the failure of Solyndra is not isolated. Two other solar power companies filed for bankruptcy in August, too. One was a Massachusetts company, Evergreen Solar, that had been awarded almost $60 million in aid by the state of Massachusetts. Despite all that support, it still went belly-up -- proving again that government money is no substitute for real consumer demand.
Now that Evergreen Solar has filed for bankruptcy, Massachusetts is desperately trying to get back some of the vast "assistance" it showered on the company, The Boston Globe reported.
But neither the federal government nor the state of Massachusetts has learned its lesson. Instead of seeing the failure of these subsidized companies as a reason to stop distorting the market through government intervention, they are doubling down on their insistence that government dollars should be used to prop up alternative energy projects that cannot make it on their own in the free market.
That's throwing good money after bad.