Amonix, This Month’s Solyndra Enjoyed Bipartisan Support

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) celebrating a pile of taxpayer dollars handed to Amonix.

Amonix, the newest photovoltaic solar panel manufacturer, declared bankruptcy last week:

Amonix said the decision to close the plant was based on “challenging” pricing for solar panels and low demand for its concentrated photovoltaic systems, according to the statement.

“We looked at several options and were really hoping that we could keep the North Las Vegas manufacturing facility, but it is not economically possible,” the company said.

Amonix was offered a U.S. tax credit of $5.9 million and received a $15.6 million grant from the U.S. Energy Department in 2007, according to Jen Stutsman, an agency spokeswoman. It didn’t receive a loan guarantee under the program that backed the failed solar manufacturers Solyndra LLC and Abound Solar Inc.

Add another $15.6 million to the taxpayer’s tab, as they were unable to produce sufficient income to take advantage of the $5.9 million tax credit. Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner points out that Amonix has been hitting the government up for money since the days of Bill Clinton, concluding that this was a bipartisan failure:

Amonix announced last week it was closing down its 214,000-square-foot Las Vegas factory that makes solar panels. The news generated schadenfreude among Republicans eager to pin another Solyndra-like green energy failure on President Obama. The Republican National Committee sent out an email citing Amonix as yet another example of “Obama’s failed record.”

But Amonix has been raking in federal subsidies since Obama was palling around with Bill Ayers in Hyde Park.

Federal records show Amonix winning a federal grant in 1995 for “a low-cost receiver plate manufacturing process for [a] high-concentration photovoltaic system.”

Bill Clinton’s Department of Energy in August 2000 gave Amonix another grant — $49,559 — for “high-density packing of solar cells.” Bush’s DOE threw three more grants at that same project, bringing the total to $657,000.

George W. Bush wasn’t done with Amonix. Between 2004 and 2005, the DOE sent $656,000 in grants to the solar company for a “photovoltaic-to-hydrogen energy system.”

The spigot really started flowing in July 2007, when Bush’s DOE awarded the company a “Renewable Energy Research & Development” grant. Over the next 18 months, the DOE doled out $5.5 million to Amonix under this grant. Amonix pocketed an additional $10.1 million under this grant from the Obama administration.

In January 2010, Obama announced $9.6 million in stimulus-created “Advanced-Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits” for Amonix to open manufacturing facilities. Data on the White House website indicate this money was to be split between two facilities, one in Las Vegas and one in Phoenix. Amonix, though, never made enough money to owe taxes that would allow the company to utilize those tax credits, according to Bloomberg News.

They’ve been getting money for years! As he concludes, it’s easy to blame “the other team” for wrongdoings, but you have to make sure you don’t have any skeletons in your own closet:

But Republicans were just as likely as Democrats to shovel taxpayer money at Amonix. The company’s biggest subsidy was the $15 million R&D grant that Bush awarded. At the Las Vegas plant’s groundbreaking in 2011, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval declared, “This is the essence of what we’re trying to accomplish” in his push to make Nevada “the renewable-energy capital of the world.”

While taxpayers don’t have the same exposure to Amonix as they did to Solyndra, it is yet another solar company to swallow up taxpayer money before failing. Obama’s Energy Department says it’ll keep backing solar power anyway, but maybe Republicans could learn a lesson.

Read the rest of Carney’s excellent piece here.

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