Fox Turns Its Sights On SunPower


In an attempt to create a "solar scandal" that will be "even bigger than Solyndra," Fox News is claiming that SunPower, which recently received a federal loan guarantee, is a "failing company" that is creating jobs "not in America, but in Mexico." In fact, industry experts see SunPower as "a success story" and the loan guarantee supports the construction of a power plant in California, not Mexico.

Fox Brazenly Pronounces SunPower A "Failing Company"

Megyn Kelly Calls SunPower "Another Failing Company." From the October 12 edition of Fox News' America Live:

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Well, if you thought the Solyndra loan scandal was bad, listen to this one. New questions being raised today as we learn that another failing company, SunPower, was given a government loan guarantee for $1.2 billion, which is of course more than twice the amount given to Solyndra, which is now bankrupt. And right now that company too, not looking good.


ELIZABETH MacDONALD: SunPower has always had a rocky earnings picture. [Fox News, America Live, 10/12/11]

Elizabeth MacDonald: SunPower's Power Plant "Could Really Go Under." From the October 12 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

BILL O'REILLY: They didn't go bankrupt yet, right?


O'REILLY: But they may.

MacDONALD: They could, this whole project that SunPower is helping to operate could really go under. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/12/11]

Steve Doocy: SunPower Is "Failing." On Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy teased a segment on SunPower by saying, "Another failing solar company, and another federal loan, but this one? Not even in the United States of America." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/12/11] [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/12/11]

Brian Kilmeade: SunPower Is "$820 Million In Debt Despite" Getting "1.2 Billion In A Government Lifeline." From the October 12 edition of Fox & Friends:

BRIAN KILMEADE: SunPower is a solar panel company based in California. It's reportedly $820 million in debt despite the fact the company got 1.2 billion in a government lifeline with the promise of creating thousands of new jobs. The problem is, it's taking those jobs to Mexico, where a manufacturing plant was built to make the solar panels. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/12/11]

But Experts Say The Opposite: SunPower Is A "Success Story"

NY Times: Analysts Say SunPower Is "Strongly Placed." The New York Times reported that although China has benefitted from solar bankruptcies in the U.S., other American companies such as SunPower "remain strongly placed":

Analysts say that two American companies remain strongly placed. One is First Solar, the largest American manufacturer, which uses a different technology but has its biggest factory in Malaysia. The other, SunPower, is much smaller but is an industry leader in the efficiency with which its panels convert sunlight into electricity, so that they sell at a premium to Chinese panels. [New York Times, 9/2/11]

Expert: Odds Of SunPower Defaulting On Loan Guarantee Are "Almost Zero." "I would place the odds of SunPower defaulting [on the loan guarantee] at almost zero," Shayle Kann, a solar power market expert at GTM Research, said. Kann added, "They've already got financing in place and a guaranteed purchaser for the power." Kann called SunPower "a pretty big success story" and said that if the project were completed today, "it would be the largest solar generating facility in the world, which is part of why they needed the loan guarantee -- private financing would have been more difficult to attain otherwise." [Phone conversation, 10/13/11]

Analysts Cite SunPower As An Example Of A Safe Bet. San Jose Mercury News reported:

"Our team never understood the Solyndra value proposition," said Michael Horwitz, a cleantech analyst at Baird Research who noted that the company's cylindrical solar arrays were more costly than flat panels sold by competitors.

By contrast, he said, "Some of the other companies that have gotten money in the last six to nine months have gone through a long, arduous vetting process."

Horwitz said SunPower -- which in April won a $1.2 billion loan guarantee -- "has years of good sales in the marketplace, billions of dollars sold and a product that's arguably the best in the world."

The Department of Energy has yet to finalize SunPower's loan guarantee to help finance a 250-megawatt solar farm in San Luis Obispo County. But despite the company's recent travails -- its stock has plunged in the past month after it reported a hefty quarterly loss and said costs were rising nearly twice as fast as revenues -- "SunPower's not going anywhere," said Horwitz, whose firm does not own SunPower stock.

Part of his confidence stems from the fact that French oil giant Total S.A. bought 60 percent of the company earlier this year.

While SunPower officials declined to say whether they feared the Solyndra controversy might scuttle their loan guarantee, energy analyst Peter Asmus of Pike Research echoed Horwitz's assessment.

"Of all the solar companies, I'm the most bullish on them," said Asmus. [San Jose Mercury News, 9/23/11]

Wall Street Journal: SunPower "Has Been Competing Successfully" Against Chinese Companies. In an April 30 article, the Wall Street Journal stated: "The San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower is one of a handful of solar-panel companies based in the U.S. and Europe that has been competing successfully for market against rapidly growing Chinese panel makers." [Wall Street Journal, 4/30/11]

Breakthrough Institute: SunPower Is An "Industry Leading Success Stor[y]." Jesse Jenkins, Devon Swezey, and Alex Trembath of the Breakthrough Institute wrote:

Instead of "picking winners and losers," as the program's critics allege, the program actually reduces risk for a suite of innovative clean energy technologies and allows venture capitalists and other private sector investors to invest in the best technology. Rather than picking winners, the LGP enables innovative companies to compete in the marketplace, allowing winners to emerge from competition. And while Solyndra is shutting its doors, companies like SunPower, First Solar, and Brightsource Energy, which also received loan guarantees and other support from the federal government, are industry leading success stories. [Forbes, 9/2/11]

Wash. Post: SunPower Is "Going Strong." Debunking the myth that "Solyndra proves that energy-loan guarantees are a flop," The Washington Post's Brad Plumer wrote:

The Energy Department's loan-guarantee program, enacted in 2005 with bipartisan support, has backed nearly $38 billion in loans for 40 projects around the country. Solyndra represents just 1.3 percent of that portfolio -- and, as yet, it's the only loan that has soured. Other solar beneficiaries, such as SunPower and First Solar, are still going strong. [Washington Post, 9/14/11]

SunPower Holds Record For Most Efficient Solar Panels. Reuters reported in June:

SunPower, the most popular solar panel company in California, which is the clear solar leader in the U.S., was recently awarded the Guinness Book of World Records Award for providing "the most efficient commercially available photovoltaic modules on the market." [Reuters, 6/20/11]

Fox Claims The Loan Guarantee Created Jobs "Not In The U.S., But In Mexico"

Doocy: SunPower Is "Not Even In The United States Of America." On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy teased a segment on SunPower saying, "Another failing solar company, and another federal loan, but this one? Not even in the United States of America." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/12/11]

Kilmeade: SunPower Is "In Mexico." On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade teased a segment on SunPower, saying "could it be bigger than the Solyndra scandal? Another federal loan handed over to another failing solar company, but this one, in Mexico." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/12/11]

Michelle Malkin: Loan Guarantee Will Create Jobs "Not In America, But In Mexico." On Hannity, Michelle Malkin said of SunPower's loan guarantee, "when we're talking about the need for American jobs, this thing is going to create countless jobs. Where? Not in America, but in Mexico, where they manufacture the photovoltaic solar panels that go into these solar ranches that this company deals in." [Fox News, Hannity, 10/12/11]

Gretchen Carlson: SunPower Is "Creating Jobs Not In The U.S., But In Mexico." On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson teased a segment on SunPower saying, "A solar scandal that may be even bigger than Solyndra -- but this time the company got billions of dollars and they're creating jobs not in the U.S., but in Mexico." The following on-screen graphic aired:

Solar Stimulus For Mexico

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/12/11]

Kimberly Guilfoyle: SunPower "Export[ed] The 15 Jobs" Resulting From The Loan Guarantee. From the October 12 edition of Fox News' The Five:

GREG GUTFELD: SunPower received $1.2 billion in guaranteed loans, they created, I believe, 15 jobs. So if you divide 1.2 billion by 15 -- I didn't do the math -- it's a lot. So it's pretty crazy stuff, plus it's not as fun as saying Solyndra.
KIMBERLY GUILYFOYLE: It's a manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico. Way to export the 15 jobs that cost a couple bil' -- really? [Fox News, The Five, 10/12/11]

Stuart Varney: SunPower "Moved Some Of Its Production Out Of California And Into Mexico." Stuart Varney falsely stated that SunPower "had moved some of its production out of California and into Mexico" prior to receiving the loan guarantee. Varney added, "so here you have your taxpayer money going to back up a company that sends jobs to Mexico." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/13/11]

In Fact, The Loan Guarantee Supports Jobs In California

SunPower Is Based In California. SunPower is headquartered in San Jose, California. Sun Power states that it has approximately 1,100 employees in 4 states and that of its 26 parts suppliers, 22 are U.S.-based. [E-mail correspondence, 10/12/11]

Loan Guarantee Will Create 350 Construction Jobs In California. The $1.2 billion loan guarantee for the California Valley Solar Ranch, a joint project of SunPower Corporation and NRG Energy, will support the construction of a solar generating facility in California that is expected to create 350 construction jobs and 15 permanent jobs, not including indirect jobs. [Department Of Energy, accessed 10/12/11]

California Factory Will Supply Solar Panels For The Power Plant Project. Separate from its loan guarantee project, SunPower announced in August that it would open a manufacturing plant in Mexico. But it also opened a manufacturing facility in Milpitas, California. SunPower stated in an April 12 press release that the Milpitas factory would supply panels to the California Valley Solar Ranch project:

One of the SunPower systems that will be served with solar panels from the Milpitas plant is the 250-MW California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., the company's first central-station PV power plant. The project is planned to begin construction this summer for which it will hire 350 people. The project will create $315 million in economic benefit to California, power approximately 100,000 homes and help the state achieve its Renewable Portfolio Standard. [SunPower, 4/12/11]

SunPower Recently Announced Plans To Build A Solar Farm In Hawaii. PV Magazine reported:

SunPower is set to build a five megawatt (MW) solar farm in Hawaii, after receiving the go ahead from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to sell the generated electricity to the Hawaiian Electric Company. [PV Magazine, 10/13/11]

The Project Will Be The Largest Of Its Kind In The Country. From Renewable Energy World:

California Valley Solar Ranch will be the largest utility-scale PV project in the U.S. to utilize tracking technology combined with a monitoring system that will improve annual output by approximately 25 percent compared with traditional fixed PV installations. The project will utilize single-axis trackers controlled by the wireless tracker monitoring and control (TMAC) system to orient the PV modules toward the sun and maximize solar collection. The TMAC monitoring system receives real time weather updates so the solar array can be stowed in harsh weather conditions to preserve the life of the solar modules. Power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the largest utility in California. [, 9/30/11]

Fox Claims Congressman's Son Is A "Lobbyist For SunPower"

Varney: Congressman's Son Is "Chief Lobbyist For SunPower" And "Had A Lot To Do With" Securing TheLoan Guarantee. From the October 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

STUART VARNEY: Now, the chief lobbyist for SunPower, the guy who had a lot to do with getting that loan --
STEVE DOOCY: Absolutely!
VARNEY: -- is George Miller IV, the son of George Miller, Congressman, Democrat, huge union supporter, out of California.
DOOCY: That's got to be a coincidence. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/13/11]

Eric Bolling: "Maybe A Congressman's Son Was One Of The Lobbyists" That Helped "SunPower Secure That Loan." From the October 12 edition of Fox News' The Five:

ERIC BOLLING: Now we're finding out that maybe a Congressman's son was one of the lobbyists involved in helping SunPower secure that loan.
ANDREA TANTAROS: That's right. George Miller, who is the Senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, his son is a lobbyist for the company, and he has been a supporter, he has actually accepted political donations. So a lot of questions, I mean, this really, really stinks. [Fox News, The Five, 10/12/11]

Malkin: Rep. Miller's Son Is "A Lobbyist For The Company." On Hannity, Michelle Malkin said the connections "raise a lot of eyebrows":

MICHELLE MALKIN: The political connections raise a lot of eyebrows -- they should. George Miller, California Democrat who's been pushing federal financing for this thing for a long time, has a son, George Miller IV, who is a lobbyist, just so happens to be a lobbyist for the company. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/12/11]

Sean Hannity: Representative's Son Is SunPower's "Top Lobbyist," Which Is "Unethical." Sean Hannity said on his show that Congressman Miller "failed to mention his son, George Miller IV is their top lobbyist at SunPower." Hannity added, "Now, can it get any more incestuous, can it get any more unethical?" [Fox News, Hannity, 10/12/11]

Lou Dobbs: Representative's Son "Is A Lobbyist For -- You Guessed It -- SunPower." On his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs said "one of the strongest advocates for the SunPower loan none other than Democratic Congressman George Miller of California, his son George Miller IV is a lobbyist for -- you guessed it -- SunPower." [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 10/12/11]

Kilmeade: "One Of [SunPower's] Lobbyists Is The Son Of A Democratic Congressman." On Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade said of SunPower, "One of the company's lobbyists is the son of a Democratic Congressman, who reportedly got campaign donations from SunPower. Darrell Issa, look that up." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/12/11]

In Fact, Rep. Miller's Son Does Not Lobby For SunPower

Firm Did Not Lobby For SunPower At The Federal Level. SunPower stated that it "utilizes the services of Lang, Hansen, O'Malley and Miller" -- the firm that George Miller IV works for -- "in California on a wide range of state-level issues. The company does not retain this firm for any activity at the federal level." [E-mail correspondence, 10/12/11]

Rep. Miller's Son Did Not Handle SunPower's Account. George Miller IV stated that he did not work on SunPower's account. [Phone conversation, 10/12/11]

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