January 24, 2012

Not National News: Bankrupt Solyndra Destroys Millions of Dollars’ Worth of Glass

I guess what follows shouldn’t be a total surprise, given that the Obama administration was perfectly comfortable ruining hundreds of thousands of perfectly good cars during the Cash For Clunkers program in 2009.

The video which follows from CBS News in San Francisco last Thursday (full transcript here) tells viewers what is happening to valuable parts at the main manufacturing plant of the now-bankrupt Solyndra. At the risk of belaboring what longtime readers here already instinctively know, it’s not news based on searches on the company’s name at at the Associated Press and the New York Times.

Here’s the video:

Excerpts (bolds are mine; do not miss that last paragraph):

Bankrupt Solyndra Caught Destroying Brand New Parts

… At Solyndra’s sprawling complex in Fremont, workers in white jumpsuits were unwrapping brand new glass tubes used in solar panels last week. They are the latest, most cutting-edge solar technology, and they are being thrown into dumpsters.

Solyndra paid at least $2 million for the specialized glass. A CBS 5 crew found one piece lying in the parking lot. Solyndra still owes the German company that made the tubes close to another $8 million.

… court documents reveal the company received permission from the bankruptcy trustee to abandon the high grade glass, the court agreeing that it was of “inconsequential value” because the cost of storing them exceeds their value.

An employee for Heritage Global Partners, the company in charge of selling Solyndra’s assets, told CBS 5 they conducted an exhaustive search for buyers but no one wanted them.

But how exhaustive was that search? The tubes were never included on the list of Solyndra assets put up for sale at two auctions last year.

If they were, David Lucky told CBS 5 he would have bought them. “We certainly would have bid on them, yes,” Lucky said.

Lucky owns several large warehouses near Las Vegas. He buys and then resells manufacturing equipment and components all the time.

… He said if given a chance he would have snapped up the tubes …

… CBS 5 asked more than once for Solyndra, the auction company and the bankruptcy trustee to talk on camera. But they all refused.

CBS 5 also called the German company that made the glass tubes to see if they would have wanted the tubes back. After all, they are still owed almost $8 million dollars. A spokesman said he had no idea they were being destroyed.

Given the fact that the company has asked for $500,000 in bonuses so that allegedly key employees can stay around during the shutdown, it doesn’t seem to be too much to ask that they attempt to get some value out of materials which remain. As demonstrated, there were clearly avenues which could have been explored, such as returning the glass to the vendor or finding a broker like Mr. Lucky who was willing to take it.

The segment also tells of a Santa Clara University professor who asked if any of the leftover tubes after the Solyndra auctions were completed could be donated. He was told “no.”

I’ve seen enough troubled situations to know that it’s hard to get rid of stuff which is seemingly valuable when time is tight and it seems that there’s no ready market, and that things get thrown out which you would think wouldn’t have to be. But $2 million worth of high-end glass?

A Google News search on “Solyndra glass” (not in quotes) returns 14 relevant items, of which only three are national establishment press stories.

There is little doubt that a similar episode of epic waste and destruction of perfectly good property under a Republican or conservative presidential administration would have been picked up as national news.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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