The following letter was submitted in response to an April 2012 Sun Dial column called ‘Solar: No Joking Matter.’
To The Editor:
You do a great disservice to the solar industry with your biased, liberal editorials and left-leaning reporting. I don't think that you realize you are one of the culprits in spewing misinformation in the press which is leading to the public becoming skeptical of solar technology.
You are a talking advertisement for Obama. If I had the time, I would like to see how many times you mention Obama in each issue. Your magazine would be more representative if you changed the name from Solar Industry to Obama Political Newsletter.
Your April 2012 Sun Dial column titled ‘Solar: No Joking Matter’ questions the distortion of facts and from the tone of the editorial I believe you are trying to blame the conservative media such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.
Fortunately, they are more accurate and forthcoming than you are when you sugar coat the technology of the industry and dismiss the harm the Obama administration is causing to the manufacturing sector. You comment that ‘when essential facts are distorted (intentionally or unintentionally), the solar sector suffers.’ This is true, except you are the one distorting the facts and not presenting unbiased data to the public.
Each week, there are five more solar companies failing after receiving federal money (my tax dollars being wasted on immature technology and Democratic cronyism). Last week, Brightsource missed its IPO date, again after receiving billions in federal aid.
Frankly, as a taxpayer, I am tired of having my taxes wasted on solar initiatives. Solar needs to compete in the market place, and it can't do that yet, as the technology isn't economical yet. Private initiative needs to be supported versus government handouts.
My company manufactures equipment for solar cell manufacturers, and yes, Solyndra was one of my customers. Fortunately, I was able to see their waste of money and lack of technology on a daily basis and was able to stop work with them and get paid before they folded. My latest hire is a 23-year-old [engineering master's program graduate] with nine months' experience at Solyndra.
With average starting salaries for four-year BS, no-experience engineers at $50,000, Solyndra hired six college grads with no experience, all at $70,000 each, because they had to show on the books that they were creating jobs. I hired my guy at $52,000; the other five are still unemployed.
There are hundreds of companies of Silicon Valley manufacturers that were suppliers to Solyndra that were financially hurt by Solyndra's failure; many have laid off employees and many have folded. Yet we hear nothing of these companies from you.
The solar sector is my highest-margin market primarily because the solar companies have no reason to control opex costs. They have money, and they need to spend it. They do not competitively bid, and work is on an open ended time and material basis.
Companies in my other thin-film markets, wafer fabs and semiconductor, control costs on a daily basis and are in it for the long haul. These are companies I will create technology with together. Solar is ‘get your money now, don't listen to the hype.’
Your last paragraph sums it up. Being in the industry, I know the facts, and the propaganda you spew perpetuates the expensive joke.
Why don't you try to stop duping the public, present facts and give the solar industry some credibility, rather than distorting the news, continuing to hype the industry and then watching the failures?
Engineered Resources Inc.
San Jose, Calif.
Editor's note: To submit your own contribution to Viewpoints, email Jessica Lillian at firstname.lastname@example.org.