Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Solyndra’s $733M Plant Had Robots, Spa Showers

And not just any robots.
As I said in introducing last week's "How Did Solyndra Spend All That Money?":
That is one of the three big questions for tomorrow's hearing, the other two being why did they build a brand new building in a weak commercial real estate market and how real were the sales that the company touted as totalling $2 Billion in backlog?...
If the NUMMI plant was good enough for the GM-Toyota partnership couldn't they have just bought it and installed clean rooms? Noooo...
In 2010 it went to Tesla Motors, whose Elon Musk has emerged as the King of the New-age welfare queens. More on that subject another day.
[ummm, gender-bender alert? -ed]
From Bloomberg:
The glass-and-metal building that Solyndra LLC began erecting alongside Interstate 880 in Fremont, California, in September 2009 was something the Silicon Valley area hadn’t seen in years: a new factory.
It wasn’t just any factory. When it was completed at an estimated cost of $733 million, including proceeds from a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee, it covered 300,000 square feet, the equivalent of five football fields. It had robots that whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of the water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms.

“The new building is like the Taj Mahal,” John Pierce, 54, a San Jose resident who worked as a facilities manager at Solyndra, said in an interview.

The building, designed to make far more solar panels than Solyndra got orders for, is now shuttered, and U.S. taxpayers may be stuck with it. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6, leaving in its wake investigations by Congress and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Republican-fueled political embarrassment for the Obama administration, which issued the loan guarantee. About 1,100 workers lost their jobs.

Amid the still-unfolding postmortems, the factory stands as emblematic of money misspent and the Field of Dreams ethos that seemed to drive the venture, said Ramesh Misra, a solar-industry analyst in Los Angeles for Brigantine Advisors....MORE