News Story

Michigan Home to Half of the Largest Bankrupt Green Energy Companies

Pushed by former Gov. Granholm, the state has four of the top eight stimulus-backed ‘green’ failures

Gov. Jennifer Granholm often spoke of using “green energy” to turn around the state’s economy, but instead Michigan has become the epicenter of government-subsidized failures.

Four of the nation’s top eight “green energy” companies that have filed for bankruptcy had operations in Michigan and received state and federal subsidies.

The Heritage Foundation put together a list of the 19 federally supported green energy companies that filed for bankruptcy and Michigan was represented significantly.

The companies with Michigan operations included A123 Systems, Azure Dynamics, United Solar Ovonics and Evergreen Solar.

Federal, state and local governments were willing to put up as much as $874 million for those four companies, but they still could not avoid bankruptcy. The government aid figure includes tax credits, loans, loan guarantees, grants and other financial incentives, according to The Heritage Foundation.

The companies were part of President Barack Obama’s effort to stimulate the economy. Granholm also trumpeted many of the failed companies as big-time job creators.

"This week’s developments show that an economic strategy we devised five years ago is continuing to produce results," Granholm said in a December 2009 speech announcing the Michigan companies receiving money from the federal stimulus program. "In that time, Michigan has invested more than $1 billion to help nurture the growth of green manufacturing in our state, from advanced batteries and electric vehicles to solar panels and wind turbines. … We want Michigan to be a center for advanced manufacturing and the jobs that come with it."

It’s not dumb luck that Michigan has hosted some of the biggest green energy collapses.

“We made a concentrated effort to attract these businesses regardless of their business prospects,” said James Hohman, a fiscal policy analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Michigan taxpayers have been paying the costs but reaping few of the benefits.”

Azure Dynamics in Oak Park developed hybrid electric technology. It was supposed to create 40 jobs within five years (2014). According to a company website, Azure Dynamics liquidated its assets.

Evergreen Solar has a facility in Midland that made solar power products. It was projected to create 101 jobs within five years (2013). Evergreen also liquidated its assets and no jobs exist.

A123 Systems had a plant in Livonia that made advanced batteries for hybrid electric vehicles. It was projected to create 844 jobs within five years (2014). Seven jobs exist at the company, according to federal records.

United Solar Ovonics developed technology for solar cells. It had facilities in Battle Creek and Greenville that were to create a projected 700 jobs. The company sold off its assets this summer, according to news reports.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.