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Obama-Funded Abound Solar Had Previous Shutdown; Lobbyist Promoted Failed Projects

Paul Chesser | National Legal & Policy Center:

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A Department of Energy-funded solar company that laid off 280 workers last week quietly imposed a mandatory, temporary cessation of its operations during the holidays, and warned employees to “not let the rumor mill create false purposes for this shut down.” And in another sign of potential financial troubles, a company document that is supposed to guide “the next great solar company” advises leadership to “stretch payables” to help attain its goals.

The forced time off was discovered in an internal memorandum obtained by The Complete Colorado, a news digest Web site, which also revealed the planning document. Employees of Abound Solar, which received a $400 million DOE loan as part of President Obama’s “green jobs” stimulus agenda, were told they would have to use their vacation pay benefits – except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – to receive compensation between Dec. 23 and January 2. Employees who did not want to use their vacation time could take the time off unpaid.

“We are shutting down to better manage the inventory, cost, and to help employees have time with their families,” the shutdown memo said. “Any other story is a rumor and not helpful in our building open and effective communications.”

And in another development, a K Street lobbyist hired late last year by Abound Solar had previously promoted as successes a number of failed “Green” initiatives in her role as Director of Energy for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, which serves as the Hoosier State’s Department of Commerce. Cathy Tripodi of the lobbying firm Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, which was paid $70,000 as Abound’s first hired outside lobbyist in the 4th quarter of 2011, previously worked for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Tripodi joined IEDC in April 2009 under Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels’s administration. In May of last year she gave a PowerPoint presentation she titled “It’s All About Jobs: How Your Energy Programs Can Drive Job Creation and Economic Growth,” at DOE’s State and Local Government Clean Energy Summit, which was a variation on a similar talk she’d given on other occasions. In the presentation she held up Indiana’s successes in attracting alternative energy businesses as an example for others to follow. ... continues...

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