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Thursday, February 28, 2013

SoloPower implodes

Another economic development fiasco for the Portland City Council: SoloPower, whose heavily subsidized factory in north Portland was supposed to create 500 jobs, is officially on the rocks:

Now it is looking to sell millions of dollars worth of equipment from its San Jose, Calif., headquarters. An online advertisement lists at least $5 million in surplus equipment from SoloPower. Silicon Valley Disposition, a San Mateo liquidator, is waiting for the final go-ahead from SoloPower, a company representative said.

A liquidator? Wow, that was quick.

The company, which state business recruiters won over in 2011, already has received a $10 million state energy loan backed in part by Portland funding and a $20 million manufacturing Business Energy Tax Credit that will pay $13.5 million in cash.

How did Portland taxpayers get into this mess? It was mostly the Sam Rand Twins' doing, but the Nurse, the Legend, and the Jellyfish all bobbled along:

A complete and total bust. Mayor Char-Lie, it's time to clean house at the Portland Development Commission. What's taking you so long?

And of course, the shadowy Oregon state energy department is in this up to its eyeballs. The people who brought you the Cylviagate scam were front and center pitching it all along. There's no hope for the governor ever scouring that place out, for obvious reasons, but it's too bad that we don't have any federal prosecutors in this state with the guts to start turning over rocks down there.

And finally, it's important to note who stopped the city of Wilsonville from getting sucked into this terrible deal: John Ludlow, currently the Clackistan county chair who's trying to fight off the Mystery Train to Milwaukie. The guy knows waste when he sees it.

UPDATE, 8:37 a.m.: This video from May 2011 is must-see TV (after the 15-second ad). But swallow all beverages before hitting play:

Comments (33)

Put another way, gov't employees such as city councilors and the PDC should NOT be acting as wanna be venture capitalists with taxpayer money.

VC is an EXTREMELY risky business.

The bureacrats should be focusing on CORE services. If the education system and basic infrastructure and well funded and maintained, businesses will be interested in starting, moving, and growing here.

If the education system and basic infrastructure and well funded and maintained

Knock it off! You're making my sides hurt, I'm laughing so hard. That will never happen in Portland. Never. It's all about the next real estate development.

Yet not even a mention of Solopower's problems in the local Willyville paper, or nod of thanks to the outspoken few who sent this crew packing. The O also seems reluctant to cover this angle.

Seems that even when the town's people prove the king has no clothes, our local news outlets shy away from reporting it.

Portland has turned into a kind of endurance test, where officials seek to determine how long the residents are willing to bend over and hold the position.

Nice line up picture. The only thing missing is the height chart in the background and the one way mirror for the witnesses.

"Number two... step forward... turn to your left..."

The hands tell the story.
The speaker here is giving the universal sign for, "That's right, I'm jerking you off."
Sam really is jerking off.
But the other 3 all have the exact same hand position. The same political body language. Their hands are saying, "We're not taking your money for a scam. No way!"

The guy on the right was laughing his butt off. He couldn't believe how stupid the Sam Rands were.

Here's a funny headline from less than two years ago: "Portland wins SoloPower." It's like winning gonorrhea.

Pay attention to what is going on down in Salem right now.
Looks like Hales wants to "redo" property tax. The city doesn't have as I recall 7 to 8 lobbyists down there for nothing.
Just what we need, more nails in coffin.
They must think the people here have an endless supply to give.

Repeal Measure 5? Let them try. It ain't gonna happen.

But it was "green" so no price is too high!

It's like the story about lavish tax credits for wind farms. Companies look at Oregon from the outside and think one thing: "Rubes."

But Jack, to quote Adams, "it is CUTTING EDGE gonorrhea"!!!!!!!!!!!

SUSTAINABLE gonorrhea!

Oh wait, that's herpes.

old slogan: The City That Works

new slogan: The City That Provides Welfare to Corporations and Increases Fees/Taxes on Current Residents

I see you've posted some pictures of people I'd like to invite to a "friendly" poker game. I might even send a cab for them.

Green OREgonorrea!!! An infection with seemingly no vaccine or cure

I need a couple of more panels for my off the grid cabin.
Maybe I will check out the Solo power going out of business sale.

One additional cost of these ventures is the harm they do to the pursuit of the next big idea. They reenforce a pervasive attitude that anything new is just junk science and that viewpoint is a trap as well. We should all be on the lookout for new science and applications - even just to invest in them. By the way, have you been reading about graphene? Here's a taste of the article:

Researchers at the University of California are developing graphene supercapacitors that can charge and discharge in a couple of minutes. The ability to discharge in a couple of minutes means that they are extremely powerful. More importantly though, these researchers developed a technique for printing graphene supercapacitors using a DVD burner.
The researchers dissolved graphite oxide in water and heated it with a laser from a standard DVD burner to obtain flexible graphene sheets. These graphene sheets are one-atom thick, yet can hold a remarkable amount of energy, while being charged or discharged in very little time compared to standard batteries.
Ultracapacitors have tremendous advantages over typical lithium-ion batteries, some of which are of paramount importance to the adoption of electric cars, such as their ability to charge in as little as 1 second, and last 20 years (easily, and with very heavy usage). While this technology could mean ever-smaller handheld electronic devices, the real beneficiaries could be electric cars. If supercapactiors replace batteries as the primary energy storage method on EVs, it could mean much faster charge times, and much longer range. This graphene sheet method could also make EVs a lot more affordable, thanks to this cost-effective method.
Will supercapacitors save the electric car?

What I think we should guard against is using these clunky solar panel failures to mock all new scientific breakthroughs in energy. What if this is like the early days of the automobile industry where there were dozens of companies before a few broke through?

Maybe one of these companies will find the silver bullet here. Let's hope so. Oh, and I bet if they do, they won't have to ask politicians for a handout. The venture capitalists will be all over it.


Sam Adams was right. This is not your grandparents' solar power - it's the ignorant dumb-asses' solar power. You know the ones that think there is a free lunch and no price to pay for spending taxpayer money on boondoggles.

Jack - i propose you assign a new codename to the SamRand Twins. Further, you should expand the coverage to include not just those who raped, pillaged and left, but the entirety of the current City Council as well since it is maintaining the "glidepath" of the SamRand spinout and crash. I propose the new codeword be:

The Unindicted.

California has genuine science and technology, so does the Seattle area. What we have here are scammers, their political enablers, and their naive victims.

I just had a profound thought. I knew one would hit before the end of the month:

What if the new graphene supercapacitors make light rail electric trains obsolete on the pollution and electric wire front? You could have electric buses with enough range to cover a city - buses that could recharge in a short stopover no longer than the ones they take now.

There has to be a price when we commit so much investment to technology from 1938. We could be building the Northwest's first Interstate Train Museum here.

Graphene. It could be the next big thing.

Best lines:

Harris:"We're on a very strict timeline ..."

Mayor Knapp: "I am disappointed..."

Ludlow: "We didn't want to give them $ 11 million for free ..."

KATU's Dunn: "They'll be discussing this in Wilsonville for years to come..."

"already has received a $10 million state energy loan backed in part by Portland funding and a $20 million manufacturing Business Energy Tax Credit that will pay $13.5 million in cash."

So adding this all up, they got a $10M loan from PDC (or some shadow) which, safe to assume is gone.

They got $20M of tax credits they sold for $13.5M to generate bonuses, so $20M is gone.

So $30M missing, gee, I really hope they have enough left to build the streetcars and no-car bridge.

Can we ever get someone in govt who is not the Village Idiot on these deals?

With all of this Federal and State money being offered, I can't help but think of the movie "The Producers". Create a failure and pocket the cash when it closes after the first performance.

Can we ever get someone in govt who is not the Village Idiot on these deals?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I think the problem is that being an effective politician is a thankless job if you are doing it correctly.

Unfortunately, the sort of people who are enamored with running for office have the need to be thanked on a regular basis.

"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they know about what they imagine they can design"

--Friedrich von Hayek

Someone has replaced your video with a 1960s rendition of Wild Thing by the Trogs.

Nice to see them all holding their hands clasped where they'll do the most goood.

Yeah, y'know, but it don't smell like Enron.
Let's hope they recover some investment capital by selling off the outdated fabrication equipment, making way to work in next-generation fab.

Science News

New Fabrication Technique Could Provide Breakthrough for Solar Energy Systems

Feb. 27, 2013 — A novel fabrication technique developed by UConn engineering professor Brian Willis could provide the breakthrough technology scientists have been looking for ... that relies on incredibly small nanosized antenna arrays that are theoretically capable of harvesting more than 70 percent of the sun's electromagnetic radiation and simultaneously converting it into usable electric power.
Through atomic layer deposition, Willis has shown he is able to precisely coat the tip of the rectenna with layers of individual copper atoms until a gap of about 1.5 nanometers is achieved. The process is self-limiting and stops at 1.5 nanometer separation.

The size of the gap is critical because it creates an ultra-fast tunnel junction between the rectenna's two electrodes, allowing a maximum transfer of electricity. The nanosized gap gives energized electrons on the rectenna just enough time to tunnel to the opposite electrode before their electrical current reverses and they try to go back. The triangular tip of the rectenna makes it hard for the electrons to reverse direction, thus capturing the energy and rectifying it to a unidirectional current.

Impressively, the rectennas, because of their incredibly small and fast tunnel diodes, are capable of converting solar radiation in the infrared region through the extremely fast and short wavelengths of visible light -- something that has never been accomplished before.
Related Stories

Solar Cell Degradation Research to Have Impact On Solar Panel Industry (Oct. 11, 2012)

2012: Killer Solar Flares Are a Physical Impossibility, Experts Say (Nov. 11, 2011)

New Solar Product Captures Up to 95 Percent of Light Energy (May 17, 2011)

Engineers Give Solar Power a Boost (Jan. 13, 2011)

Natural Solar Collectors On Butterfly Wings Inspire More Powerful Solar Cells (Feb. 5, 2009)

NASA Deciphering the Mysterious Math of the Solar Wind

Well let's hope that long-running NASA boondoggle gets its tax-money collection panels folded shut, too; stop wasting all the public tax revenues on junk science and get back to world domination, invading oil countries and murdering their populations ... for 'black gold.'

The Times They Are A-Changin' by Bob Dylan
... admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
... the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
For the times they are a-changin’

The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros.

Can someone please calculate the number of jobs that were lost in Oregon (of course we have to include the multiplier effect) because of this boondoggle?

No jobs were LOST. Just MONEY was LOST... well maybe "LOST" is not the right word. We know exactly where it went.

But JOBS were created. Unfortunately they are all in the public sector and have job titles that include some combination of the following terms:

"sustainability, planning, concept, visioning, place-making, destination, vibrant, potential, infrastructure, community, transformational, process, inclusive, paradigm, potential, global, or reconfigure".

Jack: You do realize the Federal government is never going to prosecute any of these people don't you? That's because we have both a President and Attorney General that only go after people that break laws they feel should be enforced. And anyone doing anything "green" is off-limits for prosecution. If you think otherwise; consider the complete lack of prosecution of any of the principles in Solyndra going bankrupt.

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