The PJ Tatler

Solyndra hid scale of 2011 layoffs: Job-losses were nearly double what was reported

The Solyndra debacle just grows and grows. Now a local Oakland investigative site, the Bay Citizen, did what no national networks would do and filed a Freedom of Information Act request only to discover that Solyndra lied when it said it was only firing 1,100 people at the time of its bankruptcy:

Solyndra layoffs larger than previously reported
Documents show nearly 1,900 people lost their jobs as solar panel maker closed

On the day it closed, Solyndra said it was laying off 1,100 full-time and temporary employees.

But 1,861 workers lost their jobs as the solar panel manufacturer shut its doors, according to U.S. Labor Department documents provided to The Bay Citizen under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents also show the Fremont-based company increased production in 2011, even though it failed to sell all the panels it made the previous year.

By the time it closed last August, Solyndra had an unsold inventory of more than 23 megawatts – enough solar panels to power about 23,000 homes.

Analysts said the revelations are likely to add new fuel to the partisan fire surrounding the demise of Solyndra, which received a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009.

If Solyndra was already going bankrupt, why did they (with the collusion of the media) lie about the number of job losses? Were they trying to minimize political damage to the Obama administration?

The full article raises many more trouble questions, such as the possibility that Solyndra’s management was completely out of touch with reality, manufacturing literally mountains of unwanted solar panels despite having very few orders for them:

In interviews, former Solyndra employees said they weren’t aware of the lost orders, but also were not surprised to hear that Solyndra’s production of solar panels far outstripped its sales.

“We would walk into the warehouse and such see piles and piles of pallets of panels, and we also heard stories of off-site warehouses,” said Michael P. Kohlstadt, who worked as a research and development engineer at Solyndra until the company folded.

“We all wondered what was happening there, and some of us asked if there were orders, but we never got a straight answer,” he said.

This gets fishier by the minute. It’s like Solyndra was intentionally trying to burn through all its taxpayer-supplied cash before the bankruptcy hit. Why?

Kudos to Aaron Glantz at the Bay Citizen for doing the footwork that the major news organizations wouldn’t do.