The story of solar power companies asking the federal government to extend tariffs on foreign solar panels – in the name of national security, among other items – got our attention. This was old-fashioned protectionism dressed up in a nice green energy outfit.

But the story takes a curious turn, as it now appears as though one of the solar companies, asking for more tariffs, Suniva, hasn’t made a single solar panel in years:

After all, Suniva declared bankruptcy in 2017—but only after receiving more than $20 million in tax credits, as Reason reported at the time.

What’s Suniva up to now? It’s hard to tell. The company’s website does not appear to have been updated since 2016—the most recent press release available on the site is dated December 15, 2016, and touts the successful expansion of Suniva’s manufacturing plant in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross. That same plant was shuttered just three months later, in March 2017, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Company officials said at the time that the shutdown was “temporary.” Bankruptcy filings obtained by the Chronicle in April 2017, however, suggested a bleak future for the company, which at the time had roughly 10 times as many liabilities as assets and owed money to “as many as 1,000 creditors.” Suniva eventually exited bankruptcy in 2019 and was purchased by Lion Point Capital, a New York–based hedge fund.

Calls and emails from Reason to the media contact listed on that December 2016 press release went unreturned. The company’s Facebook page has not been updated since 2017.

In short, about the only thing that Suniva seems to be doing these days is manufacturing requests for additional tariffs.

Which may count as a viable business model in some corner of official Washington, but doesn’t pass muster outside the beltway.

Then again, the DC favor factory doesn’t care so much if one’s business makes sense, has a plan, let alone any profits. Convincing lawmakers to move the wheels of state in a particular direction is all that matters.