I drove by the Solyndra construction site numerous times, and always wondered why they didn’t lease the nearby empty NUMMI factory site, instead of engaging in $1 billion in construction projects in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world.
According to news articles, this was a possibility. In fact, Solyndra was looking at NUMMI for a third plant.
But that’s not how pork barrel politics works I guess – now taxpayers are on the hook for $535 million in DOE loan guarantees.
(A deeper analysis of the Solyndra debacle would go like this: Silicon Valley is a good place to recruit semiconductor engineers but possibly the worst place in the continental USA to build a plant according to the cost of land, labor, electricity, taxes, environmental compliance and the risk of earthquake.
But in order to unite politicians in a pork barrel scam, Solyndra executives had to promise a maximum number of research and assembly jobs in California, as well as shovel-ready construction projects.)
Solyndra reminds me of other Silicon Valley companies like Webvan and Metricom that burned $1 billion on construction projects, took their eye off the ball, and were shutdown. Except taxpayers are on the hook for Solyndra.
AQT Solar wisely chose the frugal approach:
“Rather than build a factory from the ground up, the company recycled a 1970s-era rental building. “We moved in here in eight weeks, put our first 20-megawatt line up and did it for under a million dollars. That’s on Chinese time,” said Michael Bartholomeusz, AQT’s chief executive.”
What Solyndra’s Bankruptcy Means For Silicon Valley Solar Startups
examiner.com: NUMMI out. Solyndra in?
KQED Archives: Solyndra
FBI agents search Solyndra’s Fremont headquarters
Forbes.com: White House worried about Solyndra default
wsj.com: Loan Was Solyndra’s Undoing
Solyndra execs to plead 5th at House hearing
cnn.com: White House counsel slams House panel’s Solyndra subpoena
Solyndra held off announcing layoffs until after 2010 mid-term elections