Category Archives: Business & Finance

Trump’s first budget boosts defense, cuts conservative targets like EPA

This week President Donald Trump sends Congress a proposed budget that will sharply test Republicans’ ability to keep long-standing promises to bolster the military, making politically painful cuts to a lengthy list of popular domestic programs. Continue reading →

Another taxpayer-funded energy company files for bankruptcy

A cutting-edge battery maker that received millions from taxpayers has become the latest government-backed energy firm to file for bankruptcy – reviving the controversy over how stimulus dollars were spent under the last administration.Seven years after Aquion Energy received a $5.2 million stimulus-tied grant from the federal government, the Pennsylvania company on Wednesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“Creating a new electrochemistry and an associated battery platform at commercial scale is extremely complex, time-consuming, and very capital intensive. Despite our best efforts to fund the company and continue to fuel our growth, the Company has been unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue operating as a going concern,” Scott Pearson, Aquion’s outgoing CEO, said in a press release.

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The company is now looking for a buyer and produces batteries to store solar and renewable energy. It had been touted as a rising star in the energy storage business, even attracting investment from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and millions more in state funding.

In January, the company was named “the North American Company of the Year Award” at the annual Cleantech Forum in San Francisco, which “focuses on emerging trends, leading innovation companies, and key players in sustainable innovation.”

Suzanne Roski, the company’s chief restructuring officer, did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

Critics say Aquion’s fate is further evidence the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.

“Who thinks the Department of Energy has the expertise to predict which companies will succeed for fail in the marketplace, particularly in an industry that is not only dependent upon government subsidies, but is highly unpredictable?” said William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Fox News

The company grew out of the work of Jay Whitacre, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He developed a successful design for a storage battery that would use only non-toxic, non-flammable chemicals, rather than the more flammable lithium batteries.

Days before the company filed for Chapter 11, Whitacre was named the new director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon.

Aquion was awarded its federal grant in 2010. The Department of Energy issued the funding to build a large-scale battery manufacturing plant that would be located on the site of a former Sony facility in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.

Private investors flocked to the project.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Aquion raised about $190 million from investors, including from Ray Lane, a former president of Oracle.

They began low-volume production in the summer of 2011, broke ground on full-scale manufacturing facility in 2012 and have been shipping commercially since mid-2014, according to its website.

Two years later, Aquion Energy received $16.6 million in funds from the state of Pennsylvania, including two alternative clean energy loans totaling $5 million, to develop.

As part of the agreement, Aquion committed to create 341 new jobs and retain 70 existing employees, according to Heidi Havens, communications director for Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

In February 2016, the company requested a two-year extension to create the jobs promised. At that time, only 50 jobs had been created.

The Westmoreland facility has since halted operations.

“This announcement is a reminder of the critical need to ensure that taxpayer dollars for economic development projects are spent appropriately and that intended outcomes are met,” Havens said in an email to Fox News.

“Let’s remember that the need for energy storage systems is strictly a consequence of the intermittency of renewable energy sources like solar and wind,” Yeatman said. “… These companies benefit from the grants and indirectly from the inefficiencies of an industry that exists by the grace of political favoritism.”

Fox News

Chicago’s violent gangs looting freight cars filled with guns

Listen folks, on the south side of Chicago, in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods, brazen criminals occasionally hit the gangster’s jackpot: they loot freight containers carrying shiny, new guns. The guns – boxes and boxes of them – are part of shipments that are destined for gun companies or gun shops across the country. But as gangsters have caught on to the practice, they are ransacking these trains and stealing weapons that eventually make their way to the city’s blood-soaked streets. Continue reading →

$21.8 million in ObamaCare tax credits awarded to individuals who were not eligible to receive them

The Affordable Care Act exchanges awarded $21.8 million in advance premium tax credits to individuals who were not eligible to receive them, according to an audit from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Continue reading →

Trump to push Pentagon upgrade aboard US aircraft carrier

President Donald Trump intends to meet with sailors and shipbuilders on an aircraft carrier in Virginia to promote his plans for a major military buildup. Thursday President Trump is traveling to Newport News to deliver a speech aboard the Gerald R. Ford, a $12.9 billion warship that is expected to be commissioned this year after cost overruns and delays. He also is meeting with the carrier’s builder. Continue reading →

Ben Carson wins Senate confirmation as housing secretary

Thursday retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was confirmed by the Senate to become housing secretary in the Trump administration. Carson, a former Republican presidential candidate who battled Trump for the GOP nomination, was confirmed for the Cabinet position by a 58 to 41 vote. Continue reading →

DoD-funded school at center of federal probes over suspected Chinese military ties

About 4 miles from the Pentagon in northern Virginia is an innocuous-sounding online school for “management and technology” – which a Fox News investigation reveals has been at the center of multiple federal probes about its leadership’s alleged ties to the Chinese military and whether thousands of records from U.S. service members were compromised.

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Federal Judge Blocks Anthem’s Planned Acquisition of Cigna

Wednesday a federal judge blocked health insurer Anthem Inc. from acquiring rival Cigna Corp., the second court ruling in recent weeks to deal a decisive rebuke to efforts to reshape the industry through megamergers.

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‘Right-to-work’ movement claims victory in Missouri, eyes NH next

Monday Republican Gov. Eric Greitens signed legislation making Missouri the latest “right-to-work” state, as the growing movement sets its sights next on New Hampshire – hoping to break into one of the labor unions’ last remaining strongholds.

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Pentagon strikes new F-35 deal with Lockheed after Trump involvement

Friday the Trump Adminitration announced that the Pentagon has reached a tentative deal with Lockheed Martin for the purchase of 90 F-35 jets at the lowest price in the program’s history – saving the government millions, officials said. Trump, as president-elect, made headlines in December when he tweeted that the costs for the F-35 program were “out of control.”

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