Another Obama green-tech subsidy recipient begins furloughs for workers

posted at 10:01 am on October 9, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama arrived in Holland, Michigan to break ground for the new Compact Power plant in July 2010, he promised that the $150 million in subsidies that prompted the construction of the new facility would result in more than 300 jobs and an assembly line producing batteries for the Chevy Volt and the Ford Focus electric vehicles. He told workers that these batteries and jobs would not have been possible without his massive stimulus package, which funded his green-tech subsidy program at the Department of Energy (via Nexis):

So for years, you’ve heard about manufacturing jobs disappearing overseas. You are leading the way and showing how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States of America.

For example, the workers at this plant, already slated to produce batteries for the new Chevy Volt, learned the other day that they’re also going to be supplying batteries for the new electric Ford Focus as soon as this operation gears up. And that means that by 2012, the batteries will be manufactured here in Holland, Michigan. So when you buy one of these vehicles, the battery could be stamped “made in America,” just like the car. …

The progress we’ve made so far is not nearly enough to do — undo the enormous damage that this recession caused. As I’ve said since the first day I took office, it’s going to take time to reverse the toll of the deepest downturn in a generation. And I won’t be satisfied as long as even one person who needs a job, and wants to work, can’t find one. But what I’m absolutely clear about, and what this plant will prove, is that we are headed in the right direction, and that the surest way out of the storms we’ve been in is to keep moving forward, and not go backwards.

There are some folks who want to go back, who think that we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession. Some of them made the political calculation that it’s better to obstruct than to lend a hand. They’ve said no to tax cuts; they’ve said no to small-business loans; they’ve said no to clean-energy projects.

Maybe Obama should have listened.  Fast forward 27 months and $150 million later, and the Compact Power plant has begun furloughing workers for which Obama claimed credit.  Not only that, but all of those batteries stamped “Made in America” turned out not to here … but in South Korea:

Workers at the Compact Power manufacturing facilities in Holland, Mich., run by LG Chem, have been placed on rotating furloughs, working only three weeks per month based on lack of demand for lithium-ion cells.

The facility, which was opened in July 2010 with a groundbreaking attended by Obama, has yet to produce a single battery for the Chevrolet Volt, the troubled electric car from General Motors. The plant’s batteries also were intended to be used in Ford’s electric Focus. …

The 650,000-square-foot, $300 million facility was slated to produce 15,000 batteries per year, while creating hundreds of new jobs. But to date, only 200 workers are employed at the plant by by the South Korean company. Batteries for the Chevy Volts that have been produced have been made by an LG plant in South Korea.

The factory was partly funded by a $150 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. LG also received sizeable tax breaks from the local government, saving nearly $50 million in property taxes over 15 years and another $2.5 million annually in business taxes. Landing the factory was hailed as a coup when shovels first hit the ground.

It’s difficult to know what to say at this point that hasn’t already been said.  If this was a good investment, then investors would have provided the funding for it.  That’s what Mitt Romney meant during the debate when he hammered Obama on the green-tech subsidy program that spent $90 billion on flyers like Compact Power, Abound Solar, and Solyndra, all of which flopped — and many more besides, like Ener1.  Government doesn’t pick winners and losers — it picks losers, because winners don’t need the government to subsidize them in the first place.

This is yet another example of the same dynamic.  The electric-vehicle push has been a bust, the solar-panel push has been a bust, and taxpayers end up holding the bag … again.


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I wonder who these workers will vote for?

meci on October 9, 2012 at 10:03 AM

When Barack Obama arrived in Holland, Michigan to break ground for the new Compact Power plant in July 2010, he promised that the $150 million in subsidies that prompted the construction of the new facility would result in more than 300 jobs and an assembly line producing batteries for the Chevy Volt and the Ford Focus electric vehicles.

However did Henry Ford manufacture the Model T without government subsidies?

rbj on October 9, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Everything Obama touches turns to rust.

Bitter Clinger on October 9, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Out of curiosity: is there even one of these boondoggles that actually “worked” as advertised?

Kraken on October 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

…and they laughed at “drill baby drill”, and they denied natural gas, and promised to close up the coal mines…and it was all going to be replaced by windmills and mirrors…the irony—windmills and mirrors.

right2bright on October 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I wonder who these workers will vote for?

meci on October 9, 2012 at 10:03 AM

It’s MI. They’ll vote the way the union tells them. But given that this embarasses Obama ahead of the next debate I guess it is safe to assume that furloughs are racist.

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Four more weeks! Four more weeks!

Lourdes on October 9, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Bayam, what percent of your total external/non-corporal energy consumption… is met by solar power?

rogerb on October 6, 2011 at 7:54 PM


I have no idea, but why does that matter? What does the present have to do with the future?

bayam on October 7, 2011 at 12:44 AM

So we’ll mark you down for “0% (zero percent) personal investment in solar.”

Thanks for that bolded part, btw. I never expected that to come out.

You’re a bright fellow. You still can’t see the problem?

rogerb on October 7, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Gosh, I hope bayam is okay.

rogerb on October 7, 2011 at 6:16 PM

rogerb on October 9, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Four more weeks! Four more weeks!

I may just explode and get it over with before then. I feel like a Star Trek episode…She’s gonna blow, Cap’n!

Bob's Kid on October 9, 2012 at 10:13 AM

0 sure is a savvy business man. Consistent too. Unlike Romney, who could never seem to achieve this level of success. Emphasis on suc.

Bmore on October 9, 2012 at 10:13 AM

However did Henry Ford manufacture the Model T without government subsidies?

rbj on October 9, 2012 at 10:04 AM

The libs would say no, he was subsidized…they think if you don’t pay high corporate taxes, and high taxes on earnings, than you are being subsidized…they think a tax reduction or low tax rate is subsidy.

And Ford paid very low taxes…

What they don’t understand is, every worker than takes that money and pays taxes on everything they buy. And the more they buy, the more hamburgers stands open, clothing stores, toy stores, care dealerships…corporations don’t buy those things like the public does.

For every one corporation there are dozens or hundreds of individuals who pay taxes…it is so frustrating that the public does not understand that. We could eliminate all corporate taxes, and in 5 years we would be much better off, with more revenue and more people working…sheeeshhh!!

Your Ford example is a perfect example…yeah, Ford became wealthy beyond any doubt, so did Gates and others…that happens.

right2bright on October 9, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Four more weeks! Four more weeks!

Lourdes on October 9, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Time to put out my yard sign…Romney/Ryan…had to wait because of our homeowners rules…my neighbor across the street will be unhappy…

right2bright on October 9, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Sometimes it’s easy to enjoy the Schadenfreude over another failed, misguided government initiative. Politics aside, lately when I read stories like this and the other green companies that have gone bust, I can’t help but feel empathy for the poor working stiff that just lost his job. Their children that are now sitting in class unfocused and depressed because mom and dad don’t look so happy and share quiet whispers at the kitchen table. Kids that are convinced that dad has something to do with the sun coming up in the morning are depressed because dad is sitting home when he’s usually the first of the family out of the door in the morning. Heartbreaking.

DumboTheAvenger on October 9, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Well, any modest recovery my house value saw in the last year or so will head right back south. Awesome.

ConservativeLawStudent on October 9, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Obama picks losers
-mitt

cmsinaz on October 9, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Good Heavens.

Has there ever been another President who has given billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies to companies and achieved this level of failure?

Where is the reporting on that historic event?

I bet somewhere in the ownership chain is a Barack Obama campaign contributor.

Marcus Traianus on October 9, 2012 at 10:23 AM

it’s going to take time to reverse the toll of the deepest downturn in a generation. And I won’t be satisfied as long as even one person who needs a job, and wants to work, can’t find one

Take a minute to read that, and let it sink in.

Seriously?!

KMC1 on October 9, 2012 at 10:24 AM

I wonder who these workers will vote for?

meci on October 9, 2012 at 10:03 AM

It’s MI. They’ll vote the way the union tells them. But given that this embarasses Obama ahead of the next debate I guess it is safe to assume that furloughs are racist.

Happy Nomad on October 9, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Not really. Ottawa county is the reddest county in Michigan, and one of the reddest in the country. We’ll vote Romney, but we were going to anyway. It’s Detroit that carries the union vote, and all the population.

ConservativeLawStudent on October 9, 2012 at 10:25 AM

ANOTHER ready made commercial for Team Romney…

Khun Joe on October 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Gosh, I hope bayam is okay.

rogerb on October 7, 2011 at 6:16 PM
rogerb on October 9, 2012 at 10:12 AM

…stop!…my sides hurt!

KOOLAID2 on October 9, 2012 at 10:32 AM

…JugEars: “America!…I need more TV ads!…I’m stealing from you and you don’t know how…and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it!
…WHO’S GOT YOUR DOLLAR…???

KOOLAID2 on October 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM

didn’t Obama gaffe that he wanted to outsource jobs then attributed the gaffe to thinking he was channeling Romney? It looks as if he was channeling himself

ted c on October 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Of course the batteries were made off-shore. Labor prices aside, it’s impossible to make batteries in America thanks to EPA regulation. Even 20 years ago, when the company I worked for needed a weight to put in a handheld product to give it balance, it was impossible to get it made of lead due to the regulations involved. We had to substitute a larger zinc weight. A123 batteries were invented in the US at MIT under a government grant, but they’re all made in China.

Read about the new study that concludes electric cars, over their entire lifetime, cause more environmental damage than conventional-fueled ones. The messy business of making batteries is a large part of the reason.

Socratease on October 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Out of curiosity: is there even one of these boondoggles that actually “worked” as advertised?

Kraken on October 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I am guessing the answer is no — otherwise, the Democrat/Media complex would be bragging about it 24/7.

jwolf on October 9, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Obama thinks himself a god. He spaketh-”let there be green jobs” and green jobs were created.

Homeslice forgot to work on the sustainment piece.

puny god.

ted c on October 9, 2012 at 10:37 AM

If 58% of the populace has never even heard of Solyndra, thanks to the overt and intentional failure of the media to report on it, what chance is there that these other epic failure stories will get out?

natasha333 on October 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

JugEars, I have three words for you:

“Embrace The Suck”

NapaConservative on October 9, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Romney isn’t paying is fair share of taxes, if we taxed him at 100% we could make this lost “investment” money back in…10 years. 38 more years to recover what we lost in Solyndra.

gwelf on October 9, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Well at least Obama and Democrats get the kick back money, the campaign donations, generous, that are always a part of this corruption. Ok, who’s next on the failure parade?

arand on October 9, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Don’t pick another loser in November.

Vote Barack out.

profitsbeard on October 9, 2012 at 10:44 AM

There are some folks who want to go back, who think that we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession.

I’d much rather go back to the policies of the Republicans that held majority control (2+ out of 3 of the House, Senate, and Presidency) from January 3, 1995- January 3, 2007 and produced the budgets for Fiscal Years 1996 – 2007. The last full month of Republicans holding the House, Senate, and Presidency was December 2006. What kind of economy did we have after 12 continuous years of majority Republican policies? Unemployment was at 4.4%, and the FY 2007 deficit was less than $161 Billion.

What do we have now, after 5 and 3/4 years of majority Democrat policies? Four straight years of deficits well over $1 Trillion (well over $1,000 Billion) each and every year, with no end in sight. Unemployment that, when adjusted to keep the participation rate the same as it was in December 2006, is well over twice as high.

Yes, I’d much rather go back to the policies of the 2006 Republican majority than move forward with four more years of the current Democrat majority.

The Democrats drove the economy into the ditch, and they want to keep going “Forward”. The correct direction to get the economy OUT of the ditch is “REVERSE”. Reverse Obamacare. Reverse Dodd-Frank. Reverse practically everything that was passed by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama.

ITguy on October 9, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Out of curiosity: is there even one of these boondoggles that actually “worked” as advertised?

Kraken on October 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

My liberal sister-in-law claims that 3 of 17 of such companies have failed. I haven’t verified or refuted this yet. Though it is of note that one of the big issues with Solyndra and other “failed investments” is that they went to companies that we knew would fail (even Obama’s own budget office predicted it) but were run by important Democrat donors.

gwelf on October 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

How many of you awoke to an article in your daily paper about how fat Americans are the cause of our increases oil imports? The batteries in these electric cars weigh several hundred pounds. 15 gallons of gas weighs under 120 pounds. And the lower the fuel gauge the better the mileage using the same logic. No mention of that in the article.

DanMan on October 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

If 58% of the populace has never even heard of Solyndra, thanks to the overt and intentional failure of the media to report on it, what chance is there that these other epic failure stories will get out?

natasha333 on October 9, 2012 at 10:41 AM

It’s the media (along with the DNC) who has become “the enemy of this nation,” as someone recently said (without adding that DNC-part that I just did).

They’re continuing to push failed ideology that forces counter-productive impact upon our economy and population and overall nation and unwilling to withhold personal ideology out of demands that the ideology rules reality (which it doesn’t).

Which is why increasing numbers of people — who only listen to Comedy Central and use Facebook, along those lines — are so horribly uninformed and fall easily for the media-hyped-’celebrity’-politicians.

Lourdes on October 9, 2012 at 10:48 AM

My liberal sister-in-law claims that 3 of 17 of such companies have failed. I haven’t verified or refuted this yet. Though it is of note that one of the big issues with Solyndra and other “failed investments” is that they went to companies that we knew would fail (even Obama’s own budget office predicted it) but were run by important Democrat donors.

gwelf on October 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Also, a big chunk (most?) of the stimulus money went to the states to protect the public employees in unions – in other words it shored up the public sector and an important donation source for Democrat campaigns (in both labor and money). While the private sector is cratering the stimulus was primarily spent to expand and protect the public sector.

Obama loves to talk about the vital need for infrastructure and often invokes the Hoover dam and the Golden Gate Bridge (which was actually built via the private sector) – so where is the Obama dam? We threw almost a trillion dollars into “shovel ready” jobs (that Obama has since admitted – in hind sight – didn’t exist) so where is the infrastructure to show for it? Where are the dams, high speed rail, blah blah blah.

gwelf on October 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Still can’t understand why so many Americans are so damn dumb to support this phony.

jqc1970 on October 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Another fat cat; this one made by oBAMA. Bet this guy has more than one Swiss account.

democratsarefools on October 9, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Batteries for the Chevy Volts that have been produced have been made by an LG plant in South Korea.

Government Motor outsourcing jobs.

bayview on October 9, 2012 at 10:56 AM

…so where is the Obama dam?

My wife must know where it is; she mentions it every time he’s on the news. But she keeps reversing the name…

Kraken on October 9, 2012 at 10:57 AM

rogerb on October 9, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Good Lord !
Don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

pambi on October 9, 2012 at 10:58 AM

ANOTHER ready made commercial for Team Romney…

Khun Joe on October 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Romney needs to be on the air here in MI now that the race has tightened up to the margin of error. When they put this plant in, the then very lib failed governor granholm made this plant a really big deal.

Everyone in MI knows this plant was built, but I doubt most of them know it has never produced one battery.

Romney needs to get an ad about this on the air here in MI. It could swing the state.

karenhasfreedom on October 9, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Not only that, but all of those batteries stamped “Made in America” turned out not to here … but in South Korea

Maybe I’m missing it (haven’t had a chance to read the whole article), but if the workers (HATE that word) employees aren’t making Volt batteries, what are they making?

Sue Doenim on October 9, 2012 at 11:11 AM

When asked about these massive failings in the GREEN industry Obama seemed stunned at first, confused the next then after a moment said…. Hey… how about my wife’s arms aye!

WORST President EVER! We are being enslaved by tyrannical lunatics. If you are not registered to vote yet you need to get that done. This election is the equal to a battle of two countries… one that has built this country up to greatness and one that wishes to dismantle it and relegate us to third world status citizens.

NO BUDGET in 4 years! Spendopoly economic policies…. complicit leadership, unelected czars, grants and loans to foreign manufacturers… IS OUTSOURCING America.

Batteries…. either die or need to be re-charged. Batteries are still incredibly dangerous to the environment. Batteries need electricity to charge them. EPA is the Gestapo with it’s massive boot on the neck of the American people…

Fire this administration with a landslide! NO MO O 2012

ActinUpinTexas on October 9, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Out of curiosity: is there even one of these boondoggles that actually “worked” as advertised?

Kraken on October 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I was hoping Governor Romney would ask that of little Bammie, -”can you name a single one of your green boondoggles that is actually at least breaking even and employing people?”

slickwillie2001 on October 9, 2012 at 11:16 AM

This is O/T but is a must read and will give you a little laughter for the day.

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2012/10/white-house-scientists-struggle-to-contain-outbreak-of-scrutonium.html

jistincase on October 9, 2012 at 11:18 AM

The Dept. of Energy is an oxymoron.

ultracon on October 9, 2012 at 11:24 AM

My liberal sister-in-law claims that 3 of 17 of such companies have failed. I haven’t verified or refuted this yet. Though it is of note that one of the big issues with Solyndra and other “failed investments” is that they went to companies that we knew would fail (even Obama’s own budget office predicted it) but were run by important Democrat donors.

gwelf on October 9, 2012 at 10:47 AM

I could name 4, and it takes awhile for some companies to “fail”, if given a couple of hundred million, it takes time to waste that much…

right2bright on October 9, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Out of curiosity: is there even one of these boondoggles that actually “worked” as advertised?

Kraken on October 9, 2012 at 10:08 AM

If there is one, we’d have heard about it. Over and over and over again.

Finbar on October 9, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Without talking outta school… Li Batteries are driving losses in lots of companies that bought into that tech over the past decade. We just restructured and a Veep was axed due to a lot of “wrong place, wrong time” positioning.

Most Li batteries come from over seas. At most they are assembled into packs here. Lots of risk appears after assembly. Any thing that is not just right and you get worthless product or a ‘fire’…

By the time Obama rolled the dice on this plant many in the industry were aware that is was a potential landmine not to be entered blindly… which of course is what Barry did.

RalphyBoy on October 9, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Well, he thinks like a Kenya guy

The Koreans get a plant with little or no investment.

The plant insures that there will be demand for the batteries since US politicians think they will lose jobs if they do not buy batteries.

The Koreans go home and put their guys to work on making the batteries then bringing them here to sell. They keep factory on life support and never solve production problems for the motivated and desperate workers.

They then watch the guaranteed market sink with another of the fool’s ideas about Detroit making a $40,000 electric.

The plug is then pulled. (Pun)

The most chilling aspect is that it resembles corporate operations and exploitation in the developing world.

IlikedAUH2O on October 9, 2012 at 12:44 PM

furloughs and not layoffs…layoffs after the election?

Fleuries on October 9, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Finbar on October 9, 2012 at 11:39 AM

The guy on The Five who reminds one of Uncle Joe of Petticoat Junction had a litany of major industries and products that owe it all or a lot to government “investment” or or other types of intervention. He went through the llist and was not challenged. I have heard several in my travels, also.

Well, the Jeep is one.

Then we have remarks by the founder of Microsoft, Apple, Intel, and Al Gore about computers and the internet.

They say Ford would not exist but for the Highway Act of 1916 which is totally nuts.

Being a referee and helping with education and some basic research is one thing. They just sit in a corner safe and out of the way.

Deciding to become a player and aiming the economy whether it is loans to people no private concern would touch or becoming a venture capitalist chasing magic cars is really a mistake. They get into areas where the money is really at risk and the environment (Pun) is not friendly.

IlikedAUH2O on October 9, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Um. . . why isn’t this to be found ANYWHERE except for Fox News?

At this point, color me skeptical.

RedNewEnglander on October 9, 2012 at 1:26 PM

It is nothing more than a green scam designed to ‘Recycle’ taxpayer dollars into Obama’s campaign coffers.

IwjwI on October 9, 2012 at 1:33 PM

90 MILLION dollars up a wild hogs ass!! Obama picks another loser and if you vote for him, so are you!

kcd on October 9, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Correction… 150 million…. sheesh!

kcd on October 9, 2012 at 2:17 PM

Still can’t understand why so many Americans are so damn dumb to support this phony.

jqc1970 on October 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Media protection.

talkingpoints on October 9, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Government doesn’t pick winners and losers — it picks losers, because winners don’t need the government to subsidize them in the first place.

Eureka!

mike_NC9 on October 9, 2012 at 6:09 PM