Nevada Solar Manufacturing Plant Closes: Who is to Blame?

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Published on July 20, 2012

Hundreds of Nevadans have been put out of work by the failure of another solar industry company, Amonix. Now a political brawl has begun over who deserves the blame for its bankruptcy.

Amonix’s North Las Vegas facility was approved for $5.9 million in federal tax credits under the stimulus plan, to underwrite early production of four 11-ton, 50-by-72 feet solar cell arrays per day — enough to power up to 30 homes and support about 300 jobs.

That tax assistance never materialized though, according to the firm, because the facility never made any money to offset through tax credits.

This is all extremely bad news for Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is currently challenging incumbent Senator Dean Heller. Berkley supported the Obama stimulus package, and Heller didn’t. Now Heller has been relentless in attempting to brand Berkley as a big government spender and crony capitalist.

“Congresswoman Berkley, when you voted for the trillion dollar stimulus, you promised it would create 34,000 jobs in Nevada,” wrote Chandler Smith, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, the incumbent Republican Berkley is challenging. “Nevada lost jobs. Congresswoman Berkley, you pushed $6 million in funding to a company that has created zero long-term jobs for Nevada. It’s time for you to admit the stimulus – and your policies – aren’t working.”

Berkley has been taking Amonix’s political donations.  The company’s PAC has donated $3,100 to her Senate campaign — almost half of the money it doled out to candidates.

Berkley’s campaign has already been playing defense as a result of an ongoing investigation by the House Ethics Committee. It may now be too late for Berkley’s reputation to recover in time for the November election.