Okay, Romney, Now You’re Just Lying About Solar: The Industry Needs to Hold Candidates Accountable

Republican presidential front runner Mitt Romney is catching a lot of flak for his comment in New Hampshire yesterday that he “likes to fire people” who provide him services he doesn’t think adequate.

While everyone was busy interpreting the meaning of that comment, Romney made a more decidedly firm — and bizarrely false — statement about solar investment. While the solar industry saw a record amount of installations and investment in 2011, bringing in more venture capital dollars ($1.81 billion) than any other cleantech sector, Romney claimed that investors “pulled back in that industry” after the Solyndra debacle:

He compared the way Bain Capital helped start Staples, a company that acted lean for its first years and received just $5 million of capital investment, with the way Solyndra acted after receiving $530 million from Washington, getting fancy corporate offices.

“When people saw what Staples was doing, they got into the same market too. But when other solar companies saw Solyndra get $530 million from the government, investors pulled back in that industry,” he said. “So instead of encouraging solar development, the Obama administration hurt it.”

Actually, the exact opposite happened — U.S. solar installations more than doubled in 2011, with last year seeing a $1 billion investment from Bank of America for the single largest residential solar project ever.

If Romney were being graded on the PolitiFact scale Truth-O-Meter scale, the Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire meter would be completely off the charts.

At this point, with the Solyndra debacle fading out of the headlines, why pay attention to a ridiculous statement like this at one at a campaign stop in New Hampshire? Because this was at a meeting with 300 members of Nashua, New Hampshire’s Chamber of Commerce — a group of people who have enormous influence over the business decisions of the state’s second-largest city.

Romney has danced around this argument before. But now the former business man is doubling down on a preposterously false claim about the solar industry, feeding fellow business folk with a heaping spoon full of BS to satisfy the talking points of radicals within his party who will do anything to marginalize clean energy.

This is the kind of nonsensicial, out-of-touch statement that has become the political mantra of presidential candidates, even from a candidate like Romney, who was a former champion of clean energy technologies while governor of Massachusetts.

Maybe he’s tricked himself into believing this statement by now. The only way he’s going to “un-learn” these lies are to hear from people who actually represent the industry.

So if you’re a member of the solar industry in any of the states soon to be holding primaries or caucuses, are you going to let the candidates get away with making these kind of statements on the campaign?

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10 Responses to Okay, Romney, Now You’re Just Lying About Solar: The Industry Needs to Hold Candidates Accountable

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    The Republicans are all the same, even the rich ones- their talking points on energy come from the fossil fuel companies’ PR departments.

    The Democrats need to hold them accountable. This would be a political winner, as the polls CP cites point out. There was barely a peep when Cheney assembled the oil companies to craft our energy policy in 2001, and we can expect a repeat if Romney is elected.

  2. New bumperstickers for Mitt “pink slip” Romney:

    “We are Big Oil and we approve this politician.”

    “The following politician has been paid for by the Big Oil Uber Alles Fund.”

    “You’re fired!”

  3. SecularAnimist says:

    Stephen Lacey wrote: “… BS to satisfy the talking points of radicals within his party who will do anything to marginalize clean energy …”

    The Republican politicians who are trying to destroy the solar industry are no more “radicals” than an actor reading a script on an ExxonMobil commercial. Their so-called “conservative” pseudo-ideology is a fraud. They — including Romney — are nothing but bought-and-paid-for stooges for the fossil fuel corporations, who play “radicals” on TV to bamboozle gullible dupes.

  4. The Solar Energy Industries Association is making the same call to the industry to fight back, and I’ll be posting it on MY blog here later today:

    I’ll let you know what others in the industry are saying as it becomes available.

  5. Roger says:

    Candidates are like kids: testing the limits.

    If folks are not paying attention they will try more and more to get what they want, often in the form of gaining immediate gratification at the expense of longer term success. Does this sound like much of our problem, also relating to both Wall Street and climate change? It certainly makes one wonder about a business person’s approach to solving the biggest challenge ever faced.

    So thanks for calling this out, Steve. (By the way, Romney was a classmate at business school–helps in understanding his view…)

    Warm regards,

  6. Bill Woods says:

    Given the dire situation in the industry, it’d be surprising if investors haven’t pulled back.

    “[2011] has seen plant closures, bankruptcies, or fire sales declared by BP Solar, Evergreen Solar Millennium, Soliant, Solon, Solyndra, SpectraWatt, and Stirling Energy Systems. 2010 saw the closure of VC-funded Wakonda, Senergen, Solasta, and Optisolar. This is just the tip of the iceberg that will reveal itself in 2012.”

    “Only four years ago, hundreds of start-ups optimistically built factories and churned out solar panels to meet rising demand. Now, closures and failure loom for many.
    The brutal shakeout is a dramatic reversal for an industry that has seen overall global growth of more than 30 percent annually over the past decade and this year will reach new records for solar panel sales.”

  7. And how many Bain investments went bankrupt while Mittens was in charge? 22%!

  8. SecularAnimist says:

    Bill Woods wrote: “Given the dire situation in the industry, it’d be surprising if investors haven’t pulled back.”

    Well, count yourself surprised, then, because investors have in fact NOT “pulled back”.

    The solar industry is the fastest growing industry in the USA. What you call a “dire situation”, other industries would call a “boom”.

    It’s like saying the personal computer industry in the 1980s was experiencing a “dramatic reversal” because of consolidations and shakeouts during the period of that industry’s most explosive growth.

  9. Not you have the feeling that the educational level of candidates has gone too low in this campaign? I’m not talking about Sarah Palin. In this regard I admit that she was unique. No. I’m talking in general. I’m the only one with that feeling?