Wednesday 26 June 2024

Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act Paid Huge Dividends For Solar Company That Donated To Him

 The largest U.S. producer of solar panels donated $1.5 million to Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, reportedly spent $2.8 million lobbying the Biden administration and Congress after Biden was inaugurated, then reaped enormous financial benefits from Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which got nary a single Republican vote in Congress, allotted an estimated $1 trillion for environmental spending. Since Biden signed it into law in 2022, Arizona-based First Solar’s stock price has doubled.

“[I]ts profits have soared thanks to new federal subsidies that could be worth as much as $10 billion over a decade,” the Associated Press (AP) reported, adding, “The company will benefit from billions of dollars in lucrative tax credits for domestic clean energy manufacturers.”

After Biden signed the bill, First Solar’s executives and lobbyists “met at least four times in late 2022 and 2023 with administration officials, including John Podesta, who oversaw the measure’s environmental provisions,” the AP noted.

Last December, First Solar sold roughly $650 million of tax credits to a tech company. The company could use tax credits of as much as 16 cents per watt for a solar module.

Canary Media noted:

But because these incentives are essentially discounts on a company’s federal tax bill, their value to a clean energy manufacturer is limited by how much the firm owes in taxes. Plus, it can take several years for the government to send the full tax reimbursements. The Inflation Reduction Act lets companies get around these limitations by enabling them to sell the tax credits they earn on an open market to any company looking to shave down its tax bill. 

Meanwhile, investors in the company who donated huge sums to Biden’s 2020 campaign have been raking in the cash. Farhad Ebrahimi, co-founder of the software company Quark who owns roughly 5% stake in First Solar, donated at least $1 million to Biden’s campaign four years ago. He “was added to Forbes billionaires list in 2023 thanks to the skyrocketing value of his roughly 5% stake in First Solar,” AP noted.


Lukas T. Walton, of the family that owns Walmart, owned 4.9% of the company; he also donated $360,000 to Biden’s 2020 campaign and $100,000 to Biden’s 2021 inauguration.

In July 2022, the day after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and holdout Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) started secret negotiations to get the stalled Inflation Reduction Act to move toward passage, Democratic megadonor Jim Simons gave $2.5 million to Schumer’s super PAC.

Between that time and September, when Biden signed the bill, a hedge fund created by Simons bought 60,000 shares of First Solar, later upping its investment to 1.5 million shares, then selling them in 2023 after First Solar’s stock price had skyrocketed.

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