Bankrupt Solyndra: Let Us Give Bonuses


Solyndra panels, ready for action on a white roof that frankly could stand a little cleaning.

Lawyers for the bankrupt Fremont, California maker of tube-shaped solar panels at the center of a half-billion-dollar taxpayer loss have asked a judge's permission to give out bonuses (boni?) to high-paid employees. 

Solyndra LLC entered bankruptcy this fall after liquidating a $518 million taxpayer-guaranteed loan. Reason's Mike Riggs earlier noted this story by Jim McElhatton in the Washington Times

The attorneys say the extra money will add motivation at a time when workers at the solar company have little job security and more responsibilities because so many of their colleagues have been fired.

The names of the bonus-eligible employees are not disclosed in the court filings that outline the bonus proposal. None of the employees is among the so-called corporate "insiders" — top officers or members of the board of directors, records show.

The proposed bonus recipients include nine equipment engineers, six general business and finance employees and up to two information technology workers.

The biggest bonus, for $50,000, would go to a Solyndra employee whose job title is listed as a senior director with a base salary of $206,499 per year. Two senior managers stand to receive bonuses of $30,000 and $32,500.

Bankruptcy attorneys said the so-called "key employee incentive plan" aims to keep important personnel from leaving the company.

The saddest part is that you can understand how this might make sense to somebody. If the needs of the bankruptcy process are best served by maintaining the Solyndra rump as a functioning business, you do need to attract top talent at competitive salaries. (And employee compensation has continued to creep up in this devastating recession of grinding poverty and brutal austerity.) 

But why, beyond fulfillment of as many existing contracts as possible, is there any value in maintaining a business? The auction of Solyndra drew very little interest. The product drew little demand in the market. Yet it maintains a sales mechanism and, according to a court filing, sales people: 

Within the last few months, the debtors have experienced a serious loss of personnel, which has made the continuation of the sales process in an orderly fashion more difficult. 

Here's the Solyndra sales page, where you can still read up on the white-roof tax break that is available, thanks to intercession from the Department of the Treasury, to buyers of Solyndra panels. Recommended: Question 13, explaining what lease terms "may improve the likelihood" of your becoming eligible for the Internal Revenue Service's investment tax credit. 

Previous coverage: 

I, Panel

Nobel laureate Steven Chu fails to explain what a Secretary of Energy does to the House of Representatives. 

And who can forget "They about had an orgasm in Biden's office when we mentioned Solyndra"? 

I said the Solyndra scandal seemed to be winding down a few months back, but I did reserve the right to break out the tanning mirrors and the Bermuda Shorts and continue soaking in the energy right up on glory's own white roof. 

For my comeback, I catalogued the Solyndra bag of goodies with Allen Barton on The Front Page

All Reason Solyndra coverage.