A new report from a group called Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has criticized SolarCity and federal subsidies to the solar industry. The San Mateo-based residential solar installer received $750 million in taxpayers’ money from the New York State to set up its solar panel manufacturing plant in Buffalo. The plant is currently under construction.
TPA opposes government picking winners and losers
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance says that SolarCity is being federally investigated, spilling red ink and “seems to operate on a subsidy-based business model that’s untested and incomprehensible to many analysts.” David Williams, executive director of TPA, told WGRZ.com that the group opposes the government “picking winners and losers” by offering subsidies to their businesses.
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SolarCity’s deal with the New York State was highly secretive. The company has promised to invest $5 billion in New York over the next 10 years and create 2,900 jobs. The New York State officials hid most of the details of the contract, saying that disclosure of specific terms would affect the ability of either party to effectively negotiate deals with others in the future.
SolarCity says TPA ‘not a legitimate taxpayer watchdog’
The contract says that if New York State terminates the deal, it will have to pay SolarCity an undisclosed amount of money. Separately, the company was sued last year for allegedly providing false and misleading information to shareholders. Federal authorities were also investigating its books after reports surfaced that the company had inflated its sales contracts to claim millions of dollars more in federal tax incentives.
SolarCity said that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was not a “legitimate taxpayer watchdog.” The company said TPA was a front organization for fossil fuel companies. An investigation by ProPublica revealed that TPA has received funding from a group called Americans for Job Security. Notably, this group has ties to billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries.
SolarCity shares inched up 0.34% to $50.65 in pre-market trading Thursday.