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Why Solyndra Sank

Posted September 20, 2011 7:00 AM

Despite receiving over $500 million in federal loan guarantees and raising over $1 billion from investors, California-based Solyndra is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company points to increased competition from overseas and declining product prices driven by a glut of solar panels on the market. Is this a case of technology failing to keep pace with market evolution, or is it indicative of the need for policies to bolster the U.S. competitive edge in advanced technology development?

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#1

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 7:41 AM

They may have been trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

Somehow they felt they could be competitive against China manufacturing and they were going to do it in California?

Maybe the executive staff was smoking more than Hope?

I just wonder who on the Solyndra team sold investors and the US government a 1.5 billion dollar bill? If that guy can do that he probably can sell anything to anyone. I might have an opening for a second marketing guy. ;-)

They may have had some good ideas, but as they said, competition, markets, and the falling economy probably bleed them to death. Perhaps they were riding the wave of hope and inspiration (or change?) and did not consider all the realities.

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#2

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 7:42 AM

Why Solyndra Sank - AKA - Why the government should stay out of US business, stop pretending that they can create jobs by squandering money, and stop trying to force green energy that isn't ready for prime time.

Maybe Solyndra can restructure as a high speed rail company.

That's a lot of money:

Where did it go?

What kind of houses, cars and boats do the people that ran Solyndra own?

I'll bet they have nicer stuff than most of us on CR4 do....................all of it paid for with fat salaries, and untouchable.

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#25
In reply to #2

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 8:58 AM

Kramarat, You hit the Nail on the Head. I hope the satellite falling in the next day or two doesn't hit Congress in session..

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#3

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 7:55 AM

Despite receiving Because it received over $500 million in federal loan guarantees...

There, fixed that for you.

Classic example of the "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" syndrome. Government is better at ruining what it touches than it is in improving what it touches.

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#4

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 8:33 AM

Its simple......free money...no expectation for an immediate return in investment....HUGE political contributions from that money.

The only reason they even got that loan because Obama pressured the goverment types who said it looked too risky to be given a loan otherwise because they were big contributers to his campaign. That aspect is currently under investigation.

Having been with a startup before....its clear they were living the champaign lifestyle, but had a domestic beer income as the money was too easy and they never had to deliver results to a budget.

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#5

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 2:07 PM

My understanding is that China discovered a cheaper silicon process, which in addition to cheap labor, made Solyndra uncompetitive. The prior criticisms are also valid.

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#6

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 2:28 PM

This was obviously a paper tiger from the start. Even the employees admitted that no one that worked there believed the company had a chance. No one in California will work for $1.00 per day, and so we bleed jobs to our overseas "partners".

Fact: If it is being made in China, it will be cheaper.

Fact: This was a political gift by Obama to those who funded his campaign, of our money, which subsequently was pillaged by company management.

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#11
In reply to #6

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 12:15 AM

Dammit. These are facts that we don't want to fess up to.....................and yet we must.

I can either help solve it, or die off and tell my 4 year old that it's her problem.

I'm not worried about dying.................it's inevitable.

I will die trying to insure that my daughter doesn't spend her lifetime paying off my debts.

Why in the hell is this confusing?

{edit} Not spouting off at you WJM, just spouting off in general. It seems to be becoming a habit.

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#7

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 10:28 PM

You shouldn't look at this project as a failure. No doubt the senior people involved were very well paid and probably received "performance" bonuses right up until the company folded.

So it's "Mission accomplished" - someone else's money into their pockets.

And of course it's not just governments that get taken for a ride (although they do make the best marks) I'm sure no one's forgotten the the US banking system and the mess they made.

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#8

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 10:59 PM

Because....when will people ever "get it"?

Any time there is a new bubble in any niche of the market, the hucksters come pouring in. You don't think there are CEOs who can profit from any bubble?

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#9

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 11:14 PM

I agree with views above. Government is not smart enough to get involved in business it knows comparatively little about. Burned again. There is no way American labor can compete with China who is in their industrial revolution period, exploiting human labor. These scammers are laughing all the way to the bank...in Cayman.

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#10

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/20/2011 11:15 PM

(Apologies to Steve Miller)

This here's a story about Billy Stover and Brian Harri-sue
Two young greeners with nothin' better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch solar tubes
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose

They headed down to, ooh, old El Fremont
That's where they ran into a great fab hassle
Billy Sto' fleeced the man while robbing the gov'ment
Brian Harri-sue took the money and run

Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

Peter Lee is speaking from the FBI
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes

Brian Harri-sue, whoa, whoa, he slipped away
Billy Sto' caught up to him the very next day
They got the money, hey
You know they got away
They headed down south and they're still running today
Singin' go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run

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#26
In reply to #10

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 9:36 AM

This is a whole lot better than idiots pointing fingers at the president and blaming him for the company failing. Last time I checked, Obama was president of the US, not Solyndra. It doesn't take much brains to understand that.

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#29
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 11:14 AM

Everything I have seen is not blaming Obama for Solyndra's demise.

However, there is mounting evidence that the current administration pulled favors because of previous donations by one or more Solyndra executives.

It is much too early to say what did happen or did not happen. The ongoing investigations need to run their course.

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#33
In reply to #29

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 12:24 PM

Both parties are probably equally guilty for doing stupid things and allowing this type of thing to happen.

I would seriously doubt such a thing would ever reach a president - too many fools at lower levels who are trying to please the masters - they will take care of such 'favors' without explicit instructions.

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#51
In reply to #33

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 2:36 PM

Good point Russ, from my understanding of current US politics, it looks like nothing is going ahead without approval from both parties.

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#52
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 2:48 PM

If you understand US politics you are doing better than most of us who lived there many years!

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#12

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 12:17 AM

This company had a primitive, worth nothing business plan from the beginning. Putting it firmly into the overunity devices (normally called money or energy from nothing). But, "their intentions were pure, how can you blame them for the slipups?!?", or that the world simply passed them by. They wanted to produce buggy whips the old fashioned way, and their friends helped them with a load of our money, obviously without asking any of us.

So, the plan looks to me: if they win, the profit is theirs. If they lose, the loss is ours, only. Can you spell cronyXYZism?

Take your pick.

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#21
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 4:04 AM

Solyndra wasn't competitive before the drop in Silicon prices - when the solar market slowed and there was more than adequate silicon available the bottom dropped out of that market.

I have read about this company for several years and I have read very few comments from people in the know that expected the company to be successful.

Their design/technology was never going anywhere and who entered the scene but good old Unc Sam with Chu in charge of passing money out for things he has no idea of.

It would have been much better if he stuck to nuclear energy, which he knows, and painting roofs white.

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#13

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 12:46 AM

I don't believe the Feds are out anything as I don't seem to see any type of loan arrangement. If so then the only ones out are the investors for 1 billion. This is still a kick in the A-- and mainly due to poor planning. Why didn't the company take the drawings and outsource the panels themselves? Where do you think the Chinese got the information to build the panels in the first place? From our other manufacturers who sold off their technology for a couple of bucks and probably went over there to help them set it up. But we can't forget the US government foreign aid to students to come here and get free education and in-house manufacturing residencies paid for by grants. What do you think those students are doing here, drinking beer and eating pizza like the US students are doing? Come on wake up America! We give away our technology, pay the foreign students to come to learn it and then give the foreign governments grants to build a plant to take away our manufacturing. If that's not enough we outsource the designs and teach them how to do it!

Now we have the rest of the story!

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#14

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 12:59 AM

The "Feds" are not out of anything, you right. The loan guaranty made by taxpayers money is blown to the wind. To the tune of some 550 $ millions. It appears from your note, that you do not read the news. Or is it something else?

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#15

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 1:09 AM

Interesting we are quick to blame US Government interference. Why is Chinese Government sponsorship not considered part of the problem by any of the respondees? In other words, it is okay for a communist government to foster technology borrowed from catpitalist countries but free enterprise companies should have no support at all from their government?

Your quickness to blame a Democratic President, hence a system of diverse ideas and a system of checks and balances, only lowers the credibility of your response in my eyes.

The beauty of the United States is that the partnership of Government and Business exists to foster new ideas and better solutions. New ideas and better solutions always involve risks. Underwriting those risks is perhaps not something that is palatable when failure occurs. Maybe a better vetting system is required. Maybe a recognition that once the prototype production process has eleminated many of the problems, that a cheap labor, government sponsored system can be pretty hard to compete with in the reproduction of tested knowledge.

But blaming government involvement? Come on. That is stupidity at its best.

We have one of the best roadway systems in the world. We have the most reliable water distribution systems in the world. We have research facilities that put other nations to shame. Much of our grid, though old and needing replacement, was installed by Rural Electric programs. Our NSF, ASTM, and safety standards are second to none. Our space program is better than all other space programs combined. And those systems all have government sponsorship if not oversight.

So show me that you are engineers and desrve to be read because you are smart and insightful. Not because you are puppets to the pundits.

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 2:49 AM

Hi Ccoop610.

I agree, what about the US defense industry, they produce some of the best technology in the world and they've grow fat at the taxpayers trough.

Like most self reliant people I'm not a fan of government but it does have its place, sometimes they can kick-start industries, they provide oversight and regulation to stop the rich/powerful preying on the poor/weak and they can provide services that are necessary for a civil society.

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#32
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 11:54 AM

My brother-in-law works for the Defense Industry. He will never be out of a job. Partly because he is smart and a hard worker. But also because the Defense Industry, like morticians and Doctors, will always be needed.

Yes, they do feed at the public trough. I don't deny that some fraud exists. I don't deny that lean manufacturing might not be emphasized near enough. However, the collective security of US Citizens and their allies is most definitely a function of Government. I could not agree with you more. I cringe at the thought of our security being provided by Blackwater type groups, paramilitary organizations, or War Lords.

Thank you for your response.

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#23
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 6:29 AM

You wrote, "But blaming government involvement? Come on. That is stupidity at its best."

I'd like to reserve judgement on that.

However, there does seem to be a trail between Obama, Democrat fundraising donors who happen to be chief executive at Solyndra, and a fast-tracked $535 million loan guarantee (plus a request for $436 million more).

Now, all the pieces of the puzzle are not yet in, so let's see what that new "transparency of the Obama administration" yields before we give them a free pass.

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#37
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 7:03 PM

The partnership of big business and government can easily become fascism, if the government is in firm control. It is something that we are very close to. Secret wars overseas, larger and larger spy networks, and domestic surveillance are all things to fear. We are not even allowed to know how much money is spent on our many spy agencies. The public does not even know how many agencies there are. Can you say: Big Brother?

Yet we cannot even see through a company like Solyndra. Maybe because the Obama administration didn't want to. Too motivated to create a smaller General Electric type ally. Comcast is another. Republicans must be equally watched. Eisenhower warned of the military industrial complex, but not enough listened. We need to draw firm lines and demand transparent communications between corporations, politicians, and governmental organizations at all levels.

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#39
In reply to #37

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 7:55 PM

Partnership? I don't think so. Big business wants control, not partnership. And they are well on their way to getting a lot more of it. Just follow the money and look at which election campaigns it is flowing into. And, by the way, look at the direction of public discourse and media influences and you will see the same direction........Ed Weldon

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#41
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 8:48 PM

My understanding is that the Democrats got a lot more corporate money in the last election. I am not sure if that includes financiers though. Same problem with either party. The Republicans are complaining about the Dodd Frank law. It is over 2000 pages, and I have not had time to study it. It deals with a lot of regulations to protect consumers, but may have a lot of bad regulations hidden inside of it. Government bureaucrats are becoming more and more stifling, and less and less effective.

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#42
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 9:17 PM

It's pretty hard to make anything that is extremely complex to be error free. Doesn't matter whether it's a piece of legislation or a space shuttle. Putting a system into operation and fixing the mistakes as you go is always part of the plan. You try to minimize the mistakes in the design phase and have a working system to fix the problems once it's built. The problem is complex systems created by the US Congress are hampered by the inability of the design team to get a good working relationship between its needed members and the excess influence of some of the system's users.

Dodd-Frank has elements that are desperately needed. The same can be said of the Obamacare legislation. The problem is that the problem fixing crew is dominated by a team of people whose mandatory tool is a selfserving scortched earth approach.

Ed Weldon

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#43
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/22/2011 6:24 PM

Well, folks, here is a California civil servant in his naked glory. Basically, he does not care, when his state goes to hell, as long as he gets his (at least he thinks so). It is worth to parse (take apart word by word) his statement.

..."That is extremely complex" - any idiot can make things complex. A genius states: The congress shall make no laws concerning..... Simple, is not?

..."Is a legislation, or a space shuttle". Yeah, the shuttle IS complex. A legislation? You want to tax it, or not.

... "You try (?!?) to minimize mistakes".... - are you unable to make simple declarative sentences??

..... "And have a working system, to fix the problems, once it is built" - There is no such thing in legislations.

...and so on.....

And a prior one, in which he imagined to be an insider to company planners. Yeah, sure.

Folks, this guy has a feverish imagination, and the arrogance of a public employee of a royally failed state, California, to lecture the rest of us.

GRAND!

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#45
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/22/2011 8:35 PM

Hmmm ..... I think I'll let today's replies by leveles stand on their own merit.

But I should clarify one thing. I've never worked for the for the state of California either as an employee, politician or contractor. Nor do I ever collect any payments from CA with the exception of infrequent income tax refunds. Neither have I have ever worked for any government entity with the exception of 3-1/2 years during the Vietnam war when I served honorably in the U.S. Navy. (and managed to be lucky enough to not have been shot at.) ........Not that working for the state is a bad thing.

Ed Weldon

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#59
In reply to #15

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 11:07 PM

Maybe we should try free enterprise and competition. Cheap natural gas makes wind, solar etc. much more difficult to establish without subsidies. We are bankrupt. The federal government has already destroyed our economy, with the aid of the banks and hedge fund cronies.

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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 11:16 PM
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#75
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 4:15 PM

Every technology has its environmental or other critics. The EPA is calling carbon dioxide a dangerous chemical. You have to weigh the costs and benefits. Since most of the chemicals stay thousands of feet below the water level, I think "fracking" is a lot safer than coal mining, or nuclear plants. Our representatives will decide what is allowed. Free enterprise works within the rule of law, in the USA. Sometimes the laws are good, sometimes bad.Preview Comment

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#77
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Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 4:29 PM

Cheney's good ol boy network was well in effect when the oil guys were given carte blanc to do whatever in 05

injecting toxic waste below the water table , what could possibly go wrong

I forgot most of the stuff will stay where it's placed...

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#16

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 2:35 AM

The management was dense? (Specific gravity > 1.)

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#17

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 2:36 AM

I'm suspicious of this company. Solar products are a hot commodity these days and I see no logical reason for a business failure. I do wonder about three things; seriously bad management, fraud or politics. Either might have something to do with the failure. Bad management in areas such as grossly overpricing and failing to deliver their products, fraud as in the company controllers literally stealing from the company, and politics because we are nearing a major election and it would look bad for the incumbent party. I think that when you go through 1.5 billion dollars developing a product that has already been developed and tested then try to cover up by claiming competition, lower prices and glut of the product on the market you deserve an intense investigation by the federal government and all investors. I'll bet that never happens, nor will anyone go to jail. Goodbye taxpayer's money, farewell investor's money.

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#19

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 3:15 AM

tcinc002 and ccoop610 offer reasonable commentary on this subject although it is important to understand that the Solyndra solar technology was CIGS technology, not the dominant silicon technology the Chinese are selling,

The rest of you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about with respect to Solyndra. But certainly you are entitled to present your various fictional, opinionated and emotional dramatizations on the subject.

If you really want to know the story about Solyndra's demise read this. It's an email from my son, David, sent 9/13/11:

"First real journalist effort about Solyndra…

http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/09/13/317594/timeline-bush-administration-solyndra-loan-guarantee/

" Dave"

Who is Dave? David Weldon former staff mechanical engineer for Solyndra. His last major assignment was responsibility for structural design improvements and environmental testing of the solar panel for production in the new manufacturing facility. He also designed and developed tooling and processes for the Gen 1 panels.

Who is Ed Weldon? Father of David, retired mechanical engineer, under NDA from Solyndra due to my role in frequently discussing David's work at Solyndra and occasionally advising David's coworkers on technical issues.

Everyone at David's level was totally surprised by the bankruptcy announcement. The financial situation was a closely guarded secret although there was an ongoing morale problem in the engineering crew over the last few months.

Last year the idea that solar costs would drop below $2/watt was generally accepted. But not that fast. $1/watt combined by the drying up of capital for investment in solar energy projects by businesses due to economic conditions was totally unexpected. I believe that this whole thing was driven by Chinese government strategy to dominate the solar panel market and simply ship hidden costs with each panel they sell. Of course China's political system is eminently capable of doing that as we all know.

We have no way of knowing if the executives of Solyndra had any inappropriate financial dealings or actually misinformed the Government or investors. That remains to be seen through the various investigations ongoing. It's important to note that the founder and original CEO Chris Gronnet was replaced around the end of 2009 and pretty much pushed aside by a new team likely at the behest of the investors. It appeared to me, and that's just my opinion, that the new administration isolated itself from day to day operations to a far greater extent than Gronnet did. But that could well have been due to necessary preoccupation with growing financial risks.

Ed Weldon

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 3:25 AM

Thanks for providing some actual information.

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#22
In reply to #19

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 4:20 AM

The article linked to is mainly a political whine that has some fact, some conjecture and some quite wrong items.

Solyndra never had panels on the product list but rather tube collectors. They tried to make a big deal about reflected light from rooftops giving them a big boost and that the round nature of the collector would somehow provide better collection all day long. A smattering of actual engineering mixed in with a whole lot of salesman's blather and dreams.

Even before the silicon market crashed these guys were headed for the dumpster - they never managed to be competitive at any point of the company' existence. People following the industry could not understand what they thought they were doing.

If anyone was surprised at the bankruptcy they were of the few that track solar daily to be. Blame it on a Chinese conspiracy? Please! Lousy technology and business plans are one of the things that the Chinese have nothing to do with.

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#31
In reply to #22

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 11:32 AM

Russ - You are entitled to your opinion. You are also entitled to use it in a competitive marketing situation. But don't delude yourself or try to convince us of things that aren't real.

Real - The calculations of performance of the Solyndra product were valid and the test results were real. We were privy to all that information and quite capable of making critical technical evaluations of it. Much of it is still proprietary given the hoped for value of the company assets in bankruptcy liquidation and our binding NDA's so we are not at liberty to present detailed information.

Real - The Solyndra panels (oops!!, wrong word...... my bad; my credibility in the toilet) collectors were designed to last 30 years and survive extremes of wind and snow loads as well as substantial earthquake loads and still be easy to install. This came at a cost that was wrong for a commodity market. A Buick in a Daihatsu market. That's a business plan failure.

Real - The manufacturing process for the tubes was technically complex and in the light of the "morning after" probably too much for a single enterprise the size of Solyndra to take on. That again is a business plan shortfall. Business plans of all kinds fail due to the inability of people to predict the future with great accuracy.

Real - China is a competitor of great strength. Regardless of the tactics and strategy they use it is real and to be taken seriously. I'm not "blaming" them as much as I'm saying this is what we face in a competitive world.

My opinion is that the American people are still exuding too much hubris in response. China swatted one of the workers in our hive and all we see is an opportunity to play another inning in a seemingly endless political game. Maybe it's time to take a close look at their fly swatter and act accordingly.

But no! The political game is so entertaining to the point of being seductive. (That's why am I wasting my morning writing this instead of getting after my to do list and collecting round tuits). So enjoy the circus. Somebody else will pay for our tickets. Amerca is the greatest and always will be.

Ed Weldon

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#34
In reply to #31

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 12:38 PM

Ed - I don't need anything for competitive marketing - the only solar item I have ever sold are solar thermal panels as part of new homes we build. I am not deluded what so ever - I don't have to be as I was not in the boat.

Claiming privileged information would justify one's case is sticky ground.

Will the glass tubes survive - certainly should - no big deal.

Easy to install - yes and that was their most positive point.

A Buick in a Daihatsu market is stupid management.

Again - the China card - it is a popular one today.

I don't question the greatness of the USA at all - I was born there and am still a citizen.

I only wish someone could manage to develop a solar panel (PV) that was cost effective the world around. Even with all the reductions in prices they are still 'way out there' unless you have massive subsidies/incentives etc.

The markup on solar thermal panels needs to be hit like the solar PV market - today the customer is still being ripped off by most if not all manufacturers.

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 3:03 PM

"the China card - it is a popular one today."

It is very real. Any business person ignores it at his/her peril. The obvious time to consider is before investing. I think in light of the Solyndra affair investors are taking the "China Card" a lot more seriously. It's looking more like an entire suit and not just one card. ............... Ed Weldon

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#24
In reply to #19

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 7:24 AM

Thanks for the insight Ed.

I try to keep my anger with the government as evenly distributed as possible between both parties.

A horse is a horse, and a failure is a failure.

Finding ways to blame the Chinese for our self inflicted wounds is a cop out maneuver and I'm getting sick of it. We have become obsessed with assigning blame for our failures.

If we want to regain our position on the top of the economic heap, the answer is simple..........................we need to beat everyone else. Period.

Standing on the sidelines, hemorrhaging money and crying foul isn't working. The government needs to get out of the way and allow capitalist Americans to do what they do best.........................WIN.

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#134
In reply to #19

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

11/12/2011 8:55 AM

I try to spend a significant amount of time understanding the nuances of solar technology. Solyndra's design looked pretty good to me. The ability to collect light on cloudy days is impressive. The optical arrangement of the tubes is elegant to say the least. The possibility of combining that idea with heating water (or at least cooling the array) is an obvious evolution of that design. Seems a shame that the design gets a bad rap without having a chance to see it go through a few design iterations.

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#135
In reply to #134

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

11/12/2011 10:55 AM

Yeees.

1,. Phase 1: to the tune of your own money.

2,. Phase 2: your and some borrowed by you.

3,. Phase 3: some seed money to the tune of a few hundredthosands.

4,. Pull the plug or go ahead.

At what stage of the study - according to you - shall we reach a half a Billion in that so called study?!? Or was it 1,5 to 2 Billion in toto? Please tell me, I hardly can wait your erudite explanation. It got to be on the level of Einstein and Hawkins, I am sure. I am waiting with bated breath.

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#136
In reply to #135

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

11/12/2011 9:57 PM

Your points are on target. I personally don't like PVs. I certainly don't think the government should be incentivizing them. Seems to me that products are better if you can meet demand without OPM (other peoples money), and certainly not when there are far superior technologies out there. Solar thermal is 90+% efficient and the government is not offering incentives for that. 70% of the single family dwellings power bill is for making heat and hot water. ROI for evacuated tube collectors is less than 2 years for most applications. SO why did our country get behind this technology that is clearly inferior? I love to yell conspiracy... well I just did. My only point about Solyndra is that the design has something to offer for further development and has some advantages over other varieties of PVs. Still don't like them.

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#27

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 9:43 AM

What is 1 billion lost due to competition from China, US can always borrow hundred more billions from them again!

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#28

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 9:54 AM

Having seen the Worldcom implosion and the lies leading up to it...from inside the company, and before that happened the cheat and thief Bernard Ebers claimed Arthur Anderson WASN'T OUR accounting firm in the Middle of the ENRON mess, turns out THAT was a bold faced lie as well.. I trust nothing a corporate executive has to say publically, because if there is a scandle...you can count on anything they say as being geared for CYA and not having any basis in reality.

They care #1 about their golden parachute #2 what they are going to get out of it #3 covering their butt by finding someone else to blame for everything.

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#30

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 11:29 AM

Whining, and fabricating political excuses for a no technology business plan is plain disgusting.

When you do it from your own resources, that is your problem.

When you manage to get suckers in, that is their problem.

When you reach into my pocket for a loan guarantee, instead your own, you are scoundrel and a thief. And so is anybody else doing it.

There is a way - if I remember correctly - to get to my money, approval, etc. For the dense ones it bears repeating: initiative, and voting on it. Many a highway initiatives, even expensive ones, went that way.

Without it, it is theft and robbery. And do not even try to tell me about your "good intentions" after you robbed me blind.

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#36

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 6:57 PM

Re: #19, 31, 35. Excuses, excuses, excuses.... ad nauseam. Nothing but "good intentions", excuses and royal, plain, foreseeable screwup. That is the level of your repeated contributions. All that was known, or supposed to be known to the company men, and their Washington helpers.

IF, they are sooo smart, how come they do not know the basics, you claim to know? And still push out $550million of my money to a known failing enterprise. Sane people normally cut off further payments, when it becomes apparent, that the enterprise is floundering. Since you favor the whole shebang, you explain to us, how come, there was no due diligence here?!?

The other case is even simpler.

IF, they are sooo stupid, that they did not know any anyhow. How do the approver dare to give them the money?!? Are they equally stoopid? Or iust cavalier with other people's money and resources?!?

Knowing inside information, business plans? In your wet dream. Forget it.

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#38
In reply to #36

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 7:41 PM

"......Knowing inside information, business plans?

I had absolutely no "insider information". Simply knowledge of certain proprietary technical data which looked pretty good to my eyes.

"$550million of my money"

Your money? Tell you what; privately email me a mailing address and I will personally reimburse in cash your share ($1.79) of that $550 million.

Ed Weldon (#19, 31, 35) -- Righteous indignation flows from the hand of my critic like the waters of the great river during the spring melt.

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#40

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/21/2011 8:23 PM

Re: #38, 39. And so spoke Ed the Californian.

California, the 5th or 6th largest economy on the face of Earth, as states go. As a state with $27billion in the hole much worse, than Italy. That state, causing headaches to Europeans, and consequently to all.

I should listen to a guy supporting CA's ideas, should I now?!?

The supporting member of a broken state, supporting a broken outfit. OK.?

And I should be lectured by him, and follow the example?

NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

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#44

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/22/2011 6:47 PM

Among the similar programs, the GM Volt program is collapsing too. Spending the money, GM is relocating the whole program to China, to cover up the failure, IMHO. Others will follow, for the same economical reasons.

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#46

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 12:16 AM

Well, this is official now.

Solindra's fate

In a sane business transaction $550million is not handed over in a lump sum, rather in steps, according performance criteria. When such is not met, no further payment. Try to build your own home, and see how strict a rule that is!! So, where was it in this case, and why not?

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#47
In reply to #46

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 7:50 AM

I don't know if we will really ever know. We can hazard a guess.

I don't think there is any one reason for this failure, but there probably are things that dominate.

My guess is that the current administration wanted this to succeed so badly because it fit the model of their ideology so well that they were willing to circumnavigate common sense procedures.

That is, the idea that the Green Movement is such a good idea that it will have a magic force in the market that propels it to success. A model for Utopia, if you will.

The reality is that any business is vulnerable to the same market forces that any other business is and that they all operate on the same economic laws of the universe, ideology aside.

This is just another bitter pill in a very big bottle for the administration to swallow.

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#48
In reply to #47

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 11:56 AM

Some of us are hoping they have a very difficult time swallowing it!

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#49
In reply to #48

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 12:19 PM

Or choke?

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#50
In reply to #49

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 12:36 PM

Your terminology is better!

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#53

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 3:46 PM

Here is an interesting business plan.

Solar City has a simple and effective way of leveraging solar power in a way that everyone can afford.

Basically, the homeowner leases all the equipment from Solar City. No money down at all. Solar city takes care of everything else. That is, they buy the panels, do the install, deal with the electric company, etc.

The home owner just pays their electric bill directly to Solar City at a 10 to 12% discount. A Win-Win.

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#54
In reply to #53

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 4:02 PM

The home owner gets a small discount and the leasing company rapes the treasury - heck of a deal.

I have just been through a big discussion with some fool about the panels residual value after 20 years - he has convinced himself that the leasing company is going to give them to him after the lease is done. I say that if the panels have any value at that time the leasing company will have a deal to sell the systems to some company that will remove them as part of the package.

This poor fellow thinks that a leasing company with thousands of systems coming available for removal every year is going give them away - I think that would be rather poor business.

The cost of new panels at that date will really fix the value of the old systems.

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#55
In reply to #54

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 5:54 PM

You have two other choices. First, stick with your current situation and pay the electric company your current bill.

Two, buy your own system and revel in the savings. Opps, you probably need to take out a loan for that $10 to $20 investment, so there goes your savings. In about 10 to 20 years the system will pay for itself and then you will get some real savings.

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#56
In reply to #55

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 9:03 PM

it's not even close to being that simple

the panels may be good for 20 years

the inverters & other electronics won't be [10 years is more like it]

you will have more than $2OK into a residential installation

the dreaded subsidy will determine the economic reality/feasibility

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#57
In reply to #56

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 9:51 PM

I agree. It gets more complex, but I was trying to show that the 10 to 20% savings may not be that bad after all.

Solar City has done very well with this model, very well.

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#58
In reply to #57

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 10:42 PM

solar city gets a rate for power going to the grid, not available to a consumer

have a look at this thread

http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showthread.php?3520-SolarCity-20-year-lease-too-good-to-be-true

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#63
In reply to #58

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 7:57 AM

As I would expect. Sort of like buying wholesale versus resale.

I think the argument that is being laid out is that Solar City's lease is not a good deal.

I never claimed it was. I said it was a good business model and Solar City's health is a reflection of that.

It is sort of like leasing a car versus buying a car cash. Cash wins - if you have it - and if you plan on keeping the car (or house) long term.

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#64
In reply to #63

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 8:14 AM

No doubt leasing is wonderful - until the government or utilities change the rules such as in Spain.

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#65
In reply to #64

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 8:40 AM

No doubt once the number of homes with solar reach a critical mass the rules will change, but it will work for awhile and there are contracts out there waiting to be signed.

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#109
In reply to #57

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/27/2011 9:59 AM

Speaking of Solar City: some fallout from Solyndra.

SolarCity Loan Guarantee Rejected by U.S. in Wake of Solyndra's Bankruptcy

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#111
In reply to #109

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/27/2011 11:38 AM

Now that would be a real screwing for the general public - guaranteeing the loans of a leasing company.

I can see it now - Solar Run would have been in the poorest section of town telling them don't worry about anything - like the home loan problem.

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#112
In reply to #109

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/27/2011 11:41 AM

Now that's headline news:

Government Learns From Mistake

What's next? Ethanol may have been a bad idea.

We just had a plant go bankrupt in NC due to corn prices.

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#113
In reply to #112

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/27/2011 11:45 AM

Not a bad idea - just bad economics. Bad return on energy invested.

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#114
In reply to #112

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/27/2011 12:19 PM

It won't last....politicians have an attention span equal to the average toddler. They will do it again...and again, and again. Just as long as their palms are getting greased.

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#115
In reply to #112

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/27/2011 12:19 PM

At the time ethanol was being sold for under two dollars a bushel. I was burning it in a corn stove, which probably was more efficient than making it into ethanol and shipping it. I lived two blocks from a grain elevator. The general public and myself were being told for years that there was a great energy crisis. I bought into it, instead of waiting them out. A year later corn prices started going up fast. I left that old house with no insulation, and the corn stove with it. I now live in a smaller, but new, well insulated home and save a lot of natural gas and gasoline ( moved to the outskirts of town.) Point is that we were misled by many sources. There was no energy crisis whatsoever. It was just a bubble of misinformation fueled by wealthy traders, silent oil companies, misinformed media, gullible politicians etc. I have learned my lesson. Let the market sort it out, but we need transparency of information, honesty, reliable oversight of the big money speculators and punishment for the evil doers.

The truth is now apparent that we have enough oil and natural gas and extra natural gas to export, if we just go get it. Windmills and solar panels etc. are great, if they are competitive. If not, they are a luxury that we obviously cannot afford to subsidize. Nor need we give tax benefits to oil companies.

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#116
In reply to #115

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/27/2011 12:39 PM

Exactly....a fabrication, they were claiming we had no oil and were running out, when their misinformation was disclosed, they dream up Global warming as an excuse to prevent getting the oil.

Makes you wonder who they are beholden to? OPEC who is who will profit the most from artificially high prices?

I'm fine with people that want to use alternative energy...but they shouldn't be subsidized for doing it or forcing it on others. Let it stand or fall on its own merits. If its a great idea or has merit, it will succeed on its own. If it doesn't, well, whats the saying about flogging a dead horse?

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#61
In reply to #56

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/23/2011 11:43 PM

Garth -- At the risk of being pummeled for being a left wing lacky of the socialist government of CA and guilty of profiting from the plundering of the "citizens' " hard earned tax dollars because I had anything to do with Solyndra, I'll offer some comments on solar panel life.

One of David's main tasks at Solyndra was to figure out how to make the solar arrays continue to function for 30 years, identify which application environments would not be suitable for Solyndra product installation and find construction materials and design features that would be a good bet and hold warranty costs down.

I don't want to argue the merits of that objective vis-à-vis the realistic market requirements. In the real world of engineering in a medium sized corporation where you have an engineering boss and a VP of operations between you and the front office you don't get to have much to say about the strategic product decisions like product life targets to meet warranty cost and market acceptance goals. Right or wrong, their internal stated objective was essentially a 30 year life.

But there is surprisingly little information other than anecdotes on the long term life of many materials in specific atmospheric environments. Sure, there is an excellent history of long term tests at Kure Beach on various corrosion resistant metals, mainly stainless steels. But even the least expensive stainless steel approaches for solar array structures were ruled out by cost targets.

The real problem was life of nonmetallic components and coatings and their ability to insure electrical reliability over the product life. Materials suppliers have little good info on this area so a lot of study of very basic materials science was in order. Fortunately Dave had some good help from a Solyndra employee, a phD materials scientist, in this area.

Solar arrays get installed in real places like Los Angeles, Anchorage, Peoria, Houston Stuttgart and Osaka. Different environmental conditions everywhere. What's a solar installer's warranty really worth? In a turbulent market will he even be there 5 or 10 years from now when your payback is done? Does the interest rate or utility rates on which you base your payback calculations have any long term credibility?

I hate to say this but russ123, with whom I am currently in a bit of a spitting match, is probably right about the advantages of direct solar energy collection rather than photovoltaic for most people. To bad Chris Gronet (Solyndra founder) didn't put his considerable business development talents (I was acquainted with this guy long before Solyndra) into some other area where the market realities were better known to him.

I'll just let that stand against whatever the remaining competitors have to offer.

Ed Weldon

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#62
In reply to #61

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 12:55 AM

Good post Ed and I apologize for being rude+.

Russ

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#66
In reply to #61

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 8:57 AM

More than once I've been tarred with that left coast pinko brush

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=952h-AJ3Bcg

the worlds of business & technology, sometimes are at odds

just because you can do a thing technically doesn't make it a good idea economically

especially when conditions change drastically, some of the basic assumptions proved to be wrong

Solyndra probably could have adapted to a couple of things not going their way, in the end the cumulative effect was too much. There is no doubt that the executives used all the usual methods to gather up investments both public & private.

You play the game by the rules as they are, every energy company spreads money around to advocate for whatever advantage is available. What would the board of directors think of executives that didn't?

have a look at what Bloomberg has to say [comments are good too]

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-23/real-solyndra-scandal-is-u-s-approach-to-renewable-energy-subsidies-view.html

after all failure analysis is more than pointing fingers...

as businesses go lobbying looks to have an incredible ROI $1.8 mil yields $565mil

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#67
In reply to #61

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 9:11 AM

My biggest problem, as usual, is with the government, not with Solyndra.

I'm sure both Solyndra and the current administration wanted everything to work out, but we have to remember that nasty road that's paved with good intentions.

Many of the people in this administration that decided that this would be a great investment of taxpayer money, are the same ones that chided the previous administration for suggesting a partial privatization of social security due to the risks involved.

Here are a couple of questions that I'd be interested in knowing the answers to:

Would the Solyndra business plan have been able to secure $500,000,000 from a private venture capital firm?

Would the founders of Solyndra have borrowed $500,000,000 if it was a secured loan with interest attached, and in which all of their personal assets were at risk?

I know that there was private money also in the mix. But I have to wonder if the private investors would have put their own money on the line without the massive infusion from the government that led to a false sense of safety in the investment.

I think the government still needs to realize what their role is in our economy......................minimal.

For the government to loan money, (that has to paid back), to a small business is great. For the government to borrow money, (with interest attached), and turn around and give it away to advance an agenda makes me sick.

Things like the SBA are great, and have helped many small businesses get off the ground. Attempts to manipulate and spend, green energy, or anything else, into success and profitability by politicians is pure wasteful folly. It always will be.

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#68
In reply to #67

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 9:23 AM

the previous administration actually dodged a bullet by not being able to finish off the deal

http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/09/13/317594/timeline-bush-administration-solyndra-loan-guarantee/

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#69
In reply to #68

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 9:50 AM

My biggest problem, as usual, is with the government, not with Solyndra.

This is what I'm trying to convey. I try not to get into the blame Bush/Obama debates. This entire economic mess has been created by the big monster in the room that we call our government. They continue to screw up almost everything they touch.

In related headlines:

Chevy Volt Fails To Electrify Consumers

The Bold Move To Create Jobs By Running Empty High Speed Trains Around The Country

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#70
In reply to #69

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 10:11 AM

you keep acting as if there is a choice

government always has & always will pick the winners & losers

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#71
In reply to #70

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 10:28 AM

government always has & always will pick the winners & losers

They're doing an outstanding job.

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#73
In reply to #71

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 12:21 PM

"government always has & always will pick the winners & losers"

Like Iraq and Afganistan. To the tune of a trillion dollars.

At least Solyndra's human casualties are able to walk into a job fair in Newark, CA, this weekend.

Maybe governments ought to just stick with building bridges and other stuff that can't go bankrupt and won't fall down until everyone involved in the project is long dead and forgotten. Or maybe not build anything. Not even bridges and highways. Sell the rights to build them to the toll takers. Yes!! No taxes at all. Run the government with profits from selling the rights to do business. Just like local governments sell the rights for people to build homes. Sell the highways...........

Wait..... We already went there. I seem to have forgotten how that topic ended.

Ed Weldon

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#98
In reply to #67

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/25/2011 5:51 PM

Did you say we shouldn't borrow money, or print money to loan to favored industries? That sure sounds right to me.

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#72

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 11:56 AM

Re: #69 and after.

Ford sold 12 millon vehicles - no taxpayer money, profitable

GM Volt sold 1400 vehicles - $500 millon taxpayer money, goes to China to bury IMHO

Tesla sold 140(?) vehicles - $500 million taxpayer money, can float how long?

Nissan Leaf sold 70 (?) veh. - ?? taxpayer money

Tesla owners heavy lifter rocket bsiness - lots of $ taxpayer money. On this one I am willing to look the other way. NASA normally is scientific triumph, and bottomless money sink .

But, when an industry normally pumps out millions of copies, what chance has a company with much less, than a thousand.???

For full disclosure, I iust grabbed I saw reported. The timeframes are not quite comparable, hence the numbers are rough. At 3 -5 magnitudes difference it does not matter. How much sophistication and erudition takes to see that?

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#74
In reply to #72

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 12:46 PM

what are you talking about?

you are comparing the output of single models to entire companies

does Ford operate in a vacumn?

where would you drive these cars without highways?

what about the system that allows people to take out loans to buy the cars?

national defense?

local security?

an educational system to train workers?

various tax breaks at all levels...

the infrastructure to support one of the largest consumer markets in the world doesn't occur in nature that I know of

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#76
In reply to #72

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 4:21 PM

Nissan is selling all the Leafs they can produce. Volt isn't looking too good.

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#79
In reply to #76

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 7:16 PM

3657 to date. That is just a tiny fraction of any normal car sales.

Nissan sells something like 21,000 Altimas each month.

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#78

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 4:46 PM

From reading Ed's input and regarding the link as 'either or neither party' - It seems to me that it's just another case of 'financial whiz kids' coming in taking over a management structure and destroying operational functionality.

They will do things like 'smoke and mirrors' to secure new investors, while bleeding their own investment back out. Their original investment is often leveraged for CFO role.

As you would all have experienced, when the CFO (been counter) starts cutting out the guy who got the idea up to 'size'; it's time to get out.

Wouldn't be at all surprised if DOE would have, if it could have. Nor would I be surprised if the Whiz Kids thought they were filing for a tasty "bail out" deal.

An apolitical 2¢

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#80

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 7:38 PM

If the execs had been blindsided by changing economic conditions, or other force majeure, it seems they would be eager to explain that. However, according to recent headlines, they are pleading the Fifth.

Go figure?

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#81
In reply to #80

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 8:26 PM

I have no particular opinion as to why the Solyndra people pleaded the 5th. But reflecting a bit on the process I can think of nothing they could gain by saying anything, truth or otherwise. It's not like they are public figures whose livelihood rides on their public image. Were I in their position I would do the same and avoid saying anything other than the "5th response" in the face of one of those inquisitions.

This tactic of taking down someone for lying to a government official or contempt of Congress has become a huge bludgeon in the hands of the federal government and is all to frequently employed by those in power to exact real punishment against people who cannot be successfully prosecuted for real crimes. We live in a land where we cherish what freedom of speech the Supreme Court allows us in their interpretations of the Constitution.

But there is something strangely Orwellian about how freeedom of speech goes out the window when you are talking to a federal official. Virtually anything you say can trigger an investigation leading to a horribly expensive trial defense. We've seen that recently during a well publicised witch hunt designed to destroy the careers and reputations of people whose personal behavior was considered wrong but not within the bounds of what could be proven in a criminal trial.

Ed Weldon

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#82
In reply to #81

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 9:44 PM

Whether there was criminal wrongdoing or not, that money didn't vaporize. Somebody has it.......................I'd like to know who.

That's a lot of money and there are people out there who's lives got a lot better from it, regardless of what happened to the company. A full disclosure of the money trail shouldn't be too much to ask.

And no........................it shouldn't take another $100,000,000 congressional investigation to find out.

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#83
In reply to #82

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 10:26 PM

Very true; money is jobs - so long as it's spent 'onshore'.

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#84
In reply to #83

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 10:43 PM

Have congress demand their presence and testimony....didn't we learn through the political witch trials trying to hang the Bush administration that the 5th only applies in court or with the police, not in front of congress? Remember what happened with Scooter Libby? You couldn't NOT talk....but say anything wrong and they hang you for it.

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#88
In reply to #84

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/25/2011 6:38 AM

witch trial?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooter_Libby

I'm not sure taking the fall for Karl Rove when an act of dirty politics goes bad qualifies...

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#89
In reply to #88

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/25/2011 7:33 AM

Scooter Libby the fall guy but he also was a deserving one - totally different. The fact that he was being a 'stand up guy' and took the fall to protect others is his personal problem.

Lying to the feds is almost always has the potential for an all expense paid vacation.

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#97
In reply to #89

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/25/2011 2:42 PM

Particularly since the entire point of that investigation proved no actual crime happened, and they only hung him for misquoting during the badgering. And his conviction had nothing to do with the so called "Crime" that the investigation was about in the first place.

There was no right to the 5th.....so you hound someone to repeat something 20 or 30 times and if a single word changes....call it perjury and obstruction.

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#85
In reply to #81

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/24/2011 11:10 PM

Yes, a Congressional inquiry could be merely an inquisition or circus. Let us hope for a bona fide audit or investigation.

$1 billion of U.S. expenditure is only about $3.50 to me, so I don't have much of a financial dog in this fight.

This whole business could have been ramped up with say $10 million for proof-of-concept and feasibility, and maybe $100 million for a first-run production plant; with evaluation of each before further infusion.

It is difficult to comment on technical merit if NDAs hide the details. This "I've Got a Secret" notion is hard to swallow.

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: Why Solyndra Sank

09/25/2011 12:14 AM

Listen you guys: There are some things about Solyndra like specific test data and product design features I can't tell you. There is some integrity left in me; unlike many of my fellow countrymen.

Last time I looked a man's word was his bond in the little lost world I live in. That's a world of true patriots, people who love their country and want to make it better rather than give it over to fascists who are great at wrapping themselves in the flag and see America as just a fat pig full of unused resources and overpaid workers who are no longer needed.

If my connection to Solyndra destroys my credibility here, even with only some of the noisier members who prefer just so stories and want to run open loop with no connection to reality, that's OK. I won't fight it. Enough of this.

Go ahead and find all my posts and mark them off topic if it makes you feel good. I don't care.

I'm outa here........... Ed Weldon

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