Last week, when solar power manufacturer Amonix announced it was closing its North Las Vegas location, it immediately became political fodder. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller used it as an occasion to slam Rep. Shelley Berkley over the issue of unpopular stimulus spending.
“Congresswoman Berkley, when you voted for the trillion-dollar stimulus, you promised it would create 34,000 jobs in Nevada. Nevada lost jobs. Congresswoman Berkley, you pushed $6 million in funding to a company that has created zero long-term jobs for Nevada. Congresswoman, it’s time. It’s time for you to admit the stimulus — and your policies — aren’t working,” said Chandler Smith, Heller for Senate spokeswoman.
Turns out, not so much.
According to this Friday story in the Review-Journal, Amonix never used the nearly $6 million in tax credits available under the administration of President Barack Obama. Taxpayer losses were apparently confined to a 2007 grant of $15.6 million, issued under former President George W. Bush‘s administration. So if Heller (or, more particularly, Heller’s campaign) has a problem, it’s with the former president’s Energy Department policies, not with President Obama’s.
Now, surely you can cite failures on Obama’s watch, too. As I’ve said before, these things will happen as we grope our way inevitably toward a clean energy future. The government surely will have a role in research and development of new technologies, and part of that involves the risk of failure.
I like what Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer of Solar Energy Industries Association, had to say about the matter, from the story linked above: “America can’t afford to cede yet another high-tech industry and its jobs to China, Europe or elsewhere while we waste time on political arm-wrestling,” he said. “Today, solar powers our critical infrastructure — military bases, hospitals and schools — as well as homes and companies in every state. Solar is one of our nation’s many great energy resources, working for Republicans and Democrats alike.”