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Green energy firm gets taxpayer loans to sell solar panels to itself

UPDATE: First Solar's Vice President of Corporate Communications wrote a letter to the Washington Examiner correcting the article cited below, which the Examiner published here.

One of President’s Obama’s much-touted green energy projects, First Solar, received nearly $500 million in taxpayer-backed loans from the Export-Import Bank to subsidize the sale of solar panels to itself.

The Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney reports:

First Solar is an Arizona-based manufacturer of solar panels. In 2010, the Obama administration awarded the company $16.3 million to expand its factory in Ohio — a subsidy Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland touted in his failed re-election bid that year.

Five weeks before the 2010 election, Strickland announced more than a million dollars in job training grants to First Solar. The Ohio Department of Development also lent First Solar $5 million, and the state's Air Quality Development Authority gave the company an additional $10 million loan.

After First Solar pocketed this $17.3 million in government grants and $15 million in government loans, Ex-Im entered the scene.

In September 2011, Ex-Im approved $455.7 million in loan guarantees to subsidize the sale of solar panels to two wind farms in Canada. That means if the wind farm ever defaults, the taxpayers pick up the tab, ensuring First Solar gets paid.

But the buyer, in this case, was First Solar.