Conservative media are trying to blame the financial troubles of any renewable energy company on Obama -- whether his administration funded them or not. Willard & Kelsey Solar Group, an Ohio-based solar panel manufacturer you've probably never heard of, recently laid off about 40 employees. Soon after, Rush Limbaugh declared that the company was "another Solyndra" that received "federal Obama dollars" and Fox Nation claimed it was "Obama-Funded":
Trouble is, that's not true. The Toledo Blade reported in February that the company hadn't been able to obtain "federal funding or incentives":
The spotlight hasn't translated into federal funding or incentives for Willard & Kelsey, [WK Solar Chief Financial Officer Mossie] Murphy noted.
The company applied for, but did not receive, federal tax credits in 2009 for advanced energy projects. "There are other solar companies that are far better funded in terms of federal programs and stimulus dollars," he said.
Although WK Solar received support from the Ohio state government, a spokesperson for the company confirms that they "received no federal incentives."
According to the Small Business Administration, around 50% of new companies fail in the first 5 years. WK Solar got up and running in 2008, as the economy was crashing and the credit crisis was in full swing. It's nonsensical to turn every struggling small business into a national story, but these days, the media seem to lose their minds when they hear the words "solar" or "clean energy."
As the Los Angeles Times reported, experts said "a consolidation of the [solar] industry was inevitable":
Experts said that solar energy was still among the most promising of all of the alternative energy sources, but they added that due diligence was necessary to pick the best companies. Some said a consolidation of the industry was inevitable.
"There used to be 50 car companies in this country, but very few survived," said Bill Bathe, chief executive of U.S. Energy Services, a Minneapolis energy management company. "For consumers, this is an exciting time, but for investors, this is still a very high-risk stage. You may hit a home run or be part of the experiment that delivers no payout."
Earlier this week, the conservative media used a similar tactic for another renewable energy company. Range Fuels, a cellulosic ethanol company, received a $76 million grant from the Department of Energy in 2007 and an $80 million loan guarantee from the USDA under the Bush administration. But because the loan guarantee was finalized under the Obama administration, the Wall Street Journal suggested Range Fuels was one of "Obama's green energy fiascos," and Fox's Stuart Varney declared that Obama gave Range Fuels "even more money" than Bush. According to Bloomberg News, Range Fuels is now "being forced by the government to liquidate its only factory after failing to produce the fuel" in order to protect taxpayers' investment.