A financially strapped Massachusetts-based firm that manufactures batteries for electric cars, which reaped some $240 million in federal stimulus money, is being rescued by a Chinese manufacturing behemoth, owned by renowned Chinese billionaire Lu Guanqiu. A123 Systems, which was awarded a $241.1-million grant from the Obama administration and more than $125 million in state of Michigan tax credits, was once touted for its purported commitment to create thousands of jobs, while helping curb the use of conventional gas-powered vehicles and transitioning to a more “green” energy environment.
But according to a company press release, the lithium battery maker is handing its operational reins over to Wanxiang Group Corporation, China’s largest automotive components manufacturer and one of the country’s largest non-government-owned firms.
Gasoline prices in California have escalated to record highs, spiking 50 cents a gallon in a week and prompting Governor Jerry Brown to advocate laxer smog rules so oil refineries can boost supplies of less expensive fuel blends. Regular gasoline in the state has soared to an average of $4.67 a gallon, a staggering 22 percent higher than the national average, according to AAA’s nationwide fuel price survey.
The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 continue to claim lives more than a year and a half later, not from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, but from forced evacuations in areas that received insignificant amounts of radiation.
Shareholders of Canadian oil firm Nexen voted Thursday to favor a $15.1-billion takeover that would place the company into the hands of the Chinese state-owned CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation), although the merger still requires approval by the Canadian government. In a 99-percent assenting vote, shareholders approved the $27.50 per-share offer, bestowing China with its largest overseas energy acquisition ever.
Rory Reid, the eldest son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is the chief representative for a Chinese energy firm planning to build a $5-billion solar plant on public land in Laughlin, Nevada. ENN Energy Group, a clean-energy firm that manufactures a range of renewable energy solutions, is seeking to construct its solar panel facility on a 9,000-acre stretch of land on a Clark County desert plot.
The controversy stems from the fact that Clark County officials voted to sell ENN the public land for $4.5 million, even though it was appraised at $38.6 million. Conveniently, Sen. Reid has been one of ENN’s most prominent supporters, having helped mobilize the firm during a 2011 trip to China.