Solar firm enticed with tax money to come to Las Vegas is being investigated for possible fraud

It turns out the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is doling out $1.2 million in funding and/or tax incentives from Nevada’s Catalyst Fund to get California-based SolarCity to locate operations in Las Vegas while the company is being investigated by the Treasury Department for possible fraud in obtaining grants from the Department of Energy for installing solar panels.

According to the Western Center for Journalism, SolarCity has received more than $66 million from that program. That’s in addition to a $344 million loan guarantee from Energy.

The prices SolarCity and other companies were listing for their work may have been inflated, the Washington Post reports. “While firms can install solar panels for roughly $5 per watt of energy and make a comfortable profit, some firms were charging as much as $7 and $8 per watt.”

The awarding of the incentive money to SolarCity comes two weeks after the company reported its first earnings since becoming a public company, according to the San Jose Mercury-News. “The San Mateo-based solar installer posted a fourth-quarter loss of $3.04 million, or $1.10 cents a share, compared with net income of $3.7 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected a loss of 49 cents a share, and SolarCity’s shares were down more than 9 percent in after-hours trading.”

The company’s founder is Elon Musk, a big contributor to Democratic campaigns in general and to President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid in particular.

According to a Vegas Inc. story earlier this week, Gov. Brian Sandoval said he was pleased SolarCity was coming to Nevada. “This is a monumental moment for this board,” Sandoval said after a unanimous vote to award the funds by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development board.

“You had me at Elon Musk,” the article quoted board member Ross Miller, the secretary of state.

Musk’s electronic car company Tesla received a federal loan guarantee for $465 million. According to the San Francisco Business Times, Tesla lost $89.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing the company’s total amount lost or written off to more than $1 billion.

Musk’s SpaceX gets $1 billion in NASA funding.

“Musk symbolizes the Obama entrepreneur — someone who relies on government to make their riches as opposed to the marketplace,” the Western Center for Journalism observed. Add Nevada to the list of government suckers.

15 comments on “Solar firm enticed with tax money to come to Las Vegas is being investigated for possible fraud

  1. Rincon says:

    I suppose you greet the SpaceX funding with mixed emotions. Although you appear to be against manned space flight in the first place (at least in the U.S.), at least it is now being contracted out to entrepeneurs. It could be worse.

  2. “you appear to be against manned space flight in the first place”

    What gives that impression? I’m a big sci-fi fan. I just don’t like waste.


  3. Boyd says:

    Besides their willful suspension of curiosity over the details of a company the Gov and his panel intend to give millions too, due diligence does not part appear to be part of their skill set either. Greencorruption blog has 10 pages of excruciating details of financial irregularities by this company that began with an extensive article in the WaPo from **3 months ago**. It took me all of three minutes to track this information down. My false choice for the day: Is the Governor and his panel incompetent or do they just not care. I’ll wait for more information before I include, “or are they in on it?”.

  4. Steve says:

    Big money is ok as long as its liberal big money. Should be clear, this is simply another example.

  5. Vernon Clayson says:

    Bet on there being a stink with the “entrepreneurs”, Rincon, an enterprise this large operates on taxpayer money, grants and loans plus pay for the services they render, what part of any financing can you imagine is from private companies or individuals?

  6. Vernon Clayson says:

    And is it fraud if federal and state politicians are behind it? Would any business move to another state if the politicians didn’t approve of it?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Thomas, I didn’t state myself properly. I should have excepted space tourism. I cannot think of any other manned space activities that are likely to earn a profit for a long time without government money. Perhaps I’m missing something?

  8. Vernon Clayson says:

    Anonymous, the closest thing to space tourism is to pay millions to the Russians and their space program for a ride. They also provide flights to supply necessities and equipment plus they transport personnel to and from the Spacelab. I recall how we spent thousands, or millions, to develop a pen to write in space and upside down, they used a pencil. We walked on the moon first but Obama and his whizzes obviously think such exploration is an extravagance, there’s food stamps to buy, etc., etc.

  9. Mining asteroids?


  10. Boyd says:

    Like most things, someone smarter than us has already addressed this issue, “When the government makes loans or subsidies to business, what it does is to tax successful private business in order to support unsuccessful private business.” ― Henry Hazlitt

  11. And that is why the Nevada Constitution prohibits it.


  12. Vernon Clayson says:

    From all appearances Nevada legislators meet every other year to screw with the Nevada Constitution, it’s the proverbial death by a thousand cuts. And who believes their negotiations start and end within the term, it just gives them two years to hatch their dubious and unsavory schemes. It’s not just here, Obama, with near full complicity of the Congress and the courts are doing the same thing with the nation’s Constitution. As for mining asteroids, groups would arise complaining about disturbing the nature of them and laws would be set to keep the dust down and insure it wouldn’t be left looking like Searchlight, open mine shafts and tin laying around.

  13. Unless they can get tax credits and subsidies.


  14. Steve says:

    I think, actually, today’s libs would love to ship off to the asteroid belt all the miners and the companies that employ them. Sorta like what happened with our polluting industry’s, low wage jobs and China.

  15. Rincon says:

    I conclude that, except for space tourism and working on government contracts, private manned space flight is a long way off.

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