Feds Making Green Loan to Company with Large Debt – ZBB Energy Corporation
Posted Aug 19 2010 10:13am
Is the Federal Government getting into the venture capitalist business, loaning money to a 10-year-old company saddled with a massive debt load and an initial stock price of $6.00 per share?
Case in point, President Obama visited ZBB Energy Storage Corp. last week and expounded upon how green technology is the wave of the future and all the jobs being provided by the aforementioned company.
During a visit to a Wisconsin company to promote his energy policy, President Barack Obama praised ZBB Energy Corporation as an important contributor to a clean energy economy. The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based company makes products that integrate renewable energy generation with smart storage for markets worldwide. The ZBB Zinc Energy Storage System (ZESS) is a proprietary and patented regenerative energy storage system based on zinc/bromide technology, which is very different in concept and design from more traditional methods of energy storage such as the lead/acid battery.
“ZBB has been around for more than a decade, developing batteries and equipment to store energy from wind turbines and solar cells. More efficient and long-lasting storage devices have long been the Holy Grail of renewable energy, since they would allow operators to store intermittent wind and solar energy for later use. A technological breakthrough would be a great achievement, but the problem is that the effort has proven to be both difficult and costly.”
But what is really going on with this company, a company whose stock recently closed at a paltry $0.66 per share? There is another side to this story that must be revealed to the American taxpayers, taxpayers whose hard-earned money is being spent on green projects that rarely pan out.
Did the government even look at ZBB’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission? Since going public in June of 2007, ZBB has been hemorrhaging money. Current losses: $4.9 million in 2008, $5.5 million in 2009 and $6.9 million for the first nine months of this year, bringing their total losses to $44.1 million. Just recently, the company informed their shareholders that more losses are expected and that the company will be in a worse predicament if unable to continue borrowing money. Even with this year’s borrowing totaling approximately $4.7 million and access to $10 million more, due to a new credit agreement, how can ZZB survive if their business stays at current levels, less than 10% of total capacity? This means it can’t currently access the $14 million in federal tax credits, which were supposed to help with equipment for a new facility.
Other problems have been exposed: “A review by the company’s audit committee last fall discovered that ZBB’s former CEO had been wrongly compensated as both an employee and an independent contractor, and that the company had failed to withhold his proper taxes. He stepped down, and the management team was reshuffled. ZBB was also forced to restate its financial results after a separate audit committee review found the company had recognized revenue from a contract in the wrong quarter.”
If ZBB survives the current recession they will still have to increase capacity, and with current revenues and borrowing, this will be very hard to do if red ink continues to flow.
However, should they survive, the feds will say “look at this company and what they have done with green funds.”
The other side of the coin? We know the rest of the story. The U.S. taxpayers will have to eat more debt in an economy that is struggling with so many people out of work. Could all the money loaned have been better spent and utilized?