Another Obama-Funded Solar Plant Goes Under, And Republicans Are Already Pouncing


Photo: Courtesy of Amonix

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports today that Amonix, a California-based solar panel company that has received more than $20 million in federal tax credits and grants, has shut down its manufacturing plant in Northern Las Vegas, just 14 months after it opened. The company, which makes concentrating solar photovoltaic technology, is the latest clean energy casualty of the Obama adminstration’s clean energy initiatives, which have become a main target of Republicans since last year’s Solyndra bankruptcy scandal. 

According to the LVRJ, the Las Vegas manufacturing plant — Amonix’s largest manufacturing facility, has been idle since May, and the company started selling off the factory equipment this week. The company did not respond to Business Insider’s calls for comment today.

The plant, which opened in May 2011, was financed in part by $9.5 million in tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to the company’s website. The company also received $15.6 million in grant funding from the Department of Energy’s Solar America Initiative. 

At the time of its opening, Amonix’s Las Vegas factory was widely praised by Nevada politicians from both sides of the aisle, including Republican Governor Brian Sandoval and Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkeley, who is now in a tight race for Nevada’s open Senate seat. President Obama also praised the company during a 2010 speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The news comes at an opportune moment for Republicans, as the party’s presidential nominee Mitt Romney attempts to move the conversation away from his record at Bain Capital and his refusal to disclose more tax returns.

The Republican National Committee has already sent out an email blasting the Obama administration’s clean energy program and accusing the White House of providing funds to the failed Amonix project as a favour to Obama donor Steve Westly, whose company, The Westly Group, has also invested in Amonix. 

UPDATE, 1:50 p.m. 7/19/12: 

Amonix confirmed Thursday that it has shut down its North Las Vegas manufacturing facility, but clarified that no federal dollars were spent to fund the project because the tax-credit the company received from the government was never utilized. 

Here is the statement:

Based on intense competition, the challenging solar energy equipment pricing environment and
lower than anticipated demand for CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) solar energy in Nevada and
other states in the U.S. southwest, Amonix has made the difficult decision to restructure the
company and shut down its manufacturing centre in North Las Vegas, NV.

• We appreciate the efforts that the city of North Las Vegas and the state of Nevada made in working
with us to make the facility successful. 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 for Amonix
at this time.

• As we work toward a successful long-term future, we are adjusting our business and operations
plans to parallel changing market conditions.

• The current plan is for Amonix to vacate the North Las Vegas factory by the first part of August,

• The only federal incentive Amonix received for the North Las Vegas facility was a $5.9 million federal
manufacturing incentive tax credit that was never utilized. Tax credits can only be used to offset
taxable income, and Amonix has not realised taxable income to utilise the tax credits. Thus, those
tax credits have not been claimed and have had no cost to U.S. taxpayers.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.