Solar firm profiting from ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ contributed millions to Biden and Democratic campaigns, according to Law Enforcement Today

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TL/DR –

First Solar, the largest US solar panel manufacturer, reportedly donated $2 million to Democratic campaigns in 2020, including $1.5 million to Joe Biden’s campaign. After Biden’s election, First Solar spent $2.8 million lobbying his administration and Congress, leading to beneficial outcomes, including Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which helped the company’s stock price double. The company’s financial success has also benefited Democratic donors who invested heavily in the company, leading to criticism of First Solar’s political influence and the benefits it has reaped from legislation.


Renewable Energy Firm Capitalizes on Democrat Ties

First Solar, the leading US solar panel manufacturer with close ties to the Democrat Party, has seen significant financial growth off the back of green energy policies. The Associated Press reports that the company donated extensively to the Democrats in 2020, including a hefty $1.5 million to the Biden campaign.

Following Biden’s inauguration, First Solar increased its lobbying efforts, spending an additional $2.8 million to influence the administration and Congress. As a result of their close relationship with the Biden administration, First Solar has benefited immensely from the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law in 2022 with no Republican backing.

First Solar’s stock price has doubled, and its surge in profits has largely been due to federal subsidies set to total around $10 billion over the next ten years. This boon has significantly benefited a host of Democrat donors who have invested heavily in the company. Nevertheless, questions have arisen concerning First Solar’s financial success and the role of extensive lobbying and campaign contributions in shaping legislation.

First Solar’s chief lobbyist, Samantha Sloan, acknowledged the company’s influence on the administration and Congress. In contrast, White House spokesperson, Angelo Fernandez Hernandez, emphasized Biden’s commitment to climate leadership and engagement with industry stakeholders.

First Solar’s alignment with Democrats dates back to the Obama administration. The green energy sector, including First Solar, benefited from billions of dollars in government loans. Solyndra, a company with strong connections to the Obama administration, was among those receiving generous funding, although it later declared bankruptcy amid controversy.

Financial Rewards for First Solar and its Investors

Financially, First Solar has thrived, partly due to tax credits designed to make US companies more globally competitive. These credits, however, can also be sold to unrelated companies. First Solar sold around $650 million of these credits last year to a tech company, leading to a substantial cash influx. Investors in First Solar, including several prominent Democratic donors, have profited as the company’s stock price has soared.

Notably, Farhad Ebrahimi, co-founder of software company Quark, became a billionaire in 2023 partly due to his significant stake in First Solar. Walmart heir, Luke T. Walton, also a major stakeholder in First Solar, was a generous donor to Biden’s 2020 election campaign and his 2021 inauguration. Furthermore, the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage coincided with a large donation to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s super PAC from Jim Simons, a Democratic mega donor and hedge fund founder with a significant stake in First Solar.

First Solar faced scrutiny in 2012 when the House Oversight Committee probed its tactics to obtain over $2 billion in loans from the Obama administration. While the loans were approved, the proposed factory in Arizona was never built. First Solar also settled a $350 million securities fraud lawsuit in 2020, though it admitted no liability.

First Solar: Imperfect but Necessary

Despite these challenges, First Solar remains indispensable to realizing Biden’s climate objectives as the biggest US-based solar manufacturer, according to green energy advocates. While issues remain, First Solar’s dominance in the renewable energy market means that its growth is intertwined with the push for green energy, regardless of concerns surrounding the company’s influence on policy.

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