Taxpayer-Backed Green Energy Companies Pay Out Big Bonuses to Execs

President Obama’s green energy loan program has caused us some serious heartburn. It never feels good to watch tens of billions of dollars our taxpayer dollars go to dubious green energy companies simply because Obama made a speculative bet, decided to go “all in,” lost, and has been gambling wildly ever since.

From Solyndra, which received hundreds of millions in subsidies only to go bankrupt, to Fisker automotive, which took taxpayer money and decided to build its cars in Finland, to a $730 million loan to a Russian tycoon personally worth $18 billion. It’s safe to say that Americans haven’t exactly gotten much bang for their buck when it comes to green energy loans.

Of course some liberals have argued that this is all par for the course. You win some and you lose some when it comes to investing.

“If we’re going to try to support young companies doing risky things in sectors we’re hoping to dominate, we’re going to have to be prepared for some of them to fail,” writes Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein. “In fact, we should be hoping some of them fail. If your success rate is too high, it means the government is making bad investments.”

I don’t quite follow his logic, but apparently some liberals truly believe this.

But regardless of the quality of the investing, or even more basically, whether the government should be in the business of investing other people’s money on speculative energy bets at all, one thing we should all agree on is that taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for enriching executives of failed companies.

And yet, according to an ABC News investigation that is exactly what has been happening.

President Obama’s Department of Energy helped finance several green energy companies that later fell into bankruptcy — but not before the firms doled out six-figure bonuses and payouts to top executives, a Center for Public Integrity and ABC News investigation found.

Take, for instance, Beacon Power Corp., the second recipient of an Energy Department loan guarantee in 2009. In March 2010, the Massachusetts energy storage company paid cash bonuses of $259,285 to three executives in part due to progress made on the $43 million energy loan, Securities and Exchange Commission records show. Last October, Beacon Power filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Beacon isn’t alone in the practice. Among the other companies listed in the report are EnerDel, a company that received a $118.5 million loan and paid bonuses of $725,000 in bonuses before filing for bankruptcy protection. Likewise, at least 17 company executives of Solyndra received bonuses ranging from $37,000 to $60,000 just months prior to their September Chapter 11 filing. And finally, SpectraWatt, secured a $500,000 taxpayer-backed loan before handing out $745,000 in golden parachutes to five executives before the firm bit the dust.

News of these excessive bonuses is a double whammy for Americans, many of whom are out of work and struggling financially. Not only are they forced to sit by and watch Washington spend money on questionable projects that create very few jobs, but they learn that some of that money is padding the pockets of rich executives who helped drive their companies into the ground.

Is this the sort of “fairness” that Obama has continually referred to on the campaign trail?

Because to us, it’s not fair, it’s crony capitalism at its finest.