Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Firefly Energy

“Anonymous” on my comment sector of my last article indicated that he (or she) was not familiar with Firefly receiving any money from the taxpayers except a contract with the Defense Department and chided me for saying they did and are and probably will continue to do so as they do not expect to have a marketable item for some years to come.

Here is the record of the financing of Firefly gathered from various sources. Firefly was spun off of Caterpillar in 2003 with seed money of $1,020,000..00 from Caterpillar, $500,000.00 from the Peoria County, City and State, a $5,000,000.00 Federal Budget earmark from Ray LaHood plus $2,500,000.00 Federal earmark in the past fiscal year. The Illinois Finance Authority provided seed money in the amount of $300,000.00 in 2003.

ICC granted free space in ICC North, a tax supported school, in a building they bought from the state (Zeller) for I believe $1. The JS reported on 10/17/06 that Firefly will receive $3,250, 000.00 in government funding to support research and development and eventual production of a high tech battery for U.S Army vehicles. The JS reported on 1/25/06 that Firefly had received a $2,500,000.00 military contract to develop an advanced battery design. Ray LaHood is quoted “this military contract represented a congressional earmark-federal funds set aside for a special project that provided benefits both for the private sector and the general public.” I believe further research would show other grants received from other taxpayer supported entities that may or may not be open to public scrutiny.

In 2/07, the Peoria City Council voted 9-2 to grant Firefly inclusion in a new Enterprise zone. In addition to a sales tax exemption worth an estimated $160,000.00, Firefly will get a 5 year property taxes abatement, worth about $455,000.00 total. Enterprise zones are to be created in “blighted” areas; I doubt that a building near where Studio 29 is located could be called a “blighted” zone. Sandburg and Gulley agreed.

Firefly CEO Ed Williams is quoted as saying it plans to add 39 new jobs by year 2010 and the company is on pace to see initial manufacturing of its batteries by late in 2007.

Just the facts, all a matter of public record to you, “Anonymous”, and any one else interested to see how many business that pay high salaries, a quarter million each in 2003, plus benefits, to some of the officers and consultants with stock options to a whole bunch of others involved totaling 7,502,490 option shares. This company was partially started with taxpayer dollars and later partially supported with more taxpayer dollars. Firefly is not alone. East Peoria supposedly subsided the new hotel on the riverfront to the tune of $20,000,000.00 Another point - Ethanol is subsidized by our government by $0.51 per gallon driving the cost of consumer items made from corn and corn by products up considerably. More on that subject later.

Do I hope that Firefly succeeds? Absolutely. But if you read carefully or seek information that is available to the general public you will become more of a respected source of information. I am not your regular type blogger on daily events but I keep extensive files that may reveal things in there true state; not as they appear to be. Anything stated in this article is a matter of public record.

Incidentally, the JS reported in small print that Caterpillar, a company whose stock I own, received $26 million in earmarks last year and is scheduled to receive $72.2 million this year unless the Senate makes changes to the Highway “LuLu” bill.

Your corrections and comments are always accepted. Currently I am not able to answer comments on this site because somehow I am blocked out. Probably because I recently went to high speed cable but have not figured out a way to close out my old slower system that my wife and I both use and on which our email information and addresses are stored which I am told we will lose if we try to combine in the faster system.

Expect more and more “subsidies” to be granted by all bodies of government as worldwide competition increases. Most all of these subsidies will come from tax dollars. Expect government to become larger until we admit we have moved from a capitalistic entrepreneur type of government to a socialist and populist type of government and 50 years from now or sooner, be looked at as much of Old Europe is actually today.


ben said...

Count me as another person who did not realize how much local and state money was flowing into Firefly. Thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt any statistic of fact that you stated, but by merely referring to them as "earmarks" or "seed money" or money from the city, county whoever, you are only telling half the stories.

Those "earmarks" would seem to be contracts for services to be rendered. The military needs a new type of battery and they are paying Firefly to develop it. Is that public money? Yes. But it doesn't smack of being suckling from the government teat like, say, the museum would be.

As for the seed money from other government entities (IFA, city, county) were they grants or loans? If the latter, which I think they are, are they being paid back? Are you against government-backed low-interest loans? If so, you should ask the county to get rid of theirs. While you are at it, you should probably vote to get rid of the county Enterprise Zone.

Finally, the tax abatements. I have no doubt they are receiving or will receive all that you've stated. It is more of a "savings" than a "gift", but money is money. You can be against that if you like, but I'd rather them be here than elsewhere. Unfortunately, it is the price we have to pay.

Anonymous said...

Widmer analysis equal foolish.

Merle Widmer said...

This semi intelligent "anonymous" goes from one extreme to another. The County's Gap loan is at 3%interest and is tapayer money on loan with the risk of the county not being repaid. No government body should be in the venture capital business; let that money be provided by private enterprise.

Also "anon" needs to read what an enterprise zone is "susposed" to be. Again Sandburg and Gulley are going by the accurate description. You are in agreement that the new Super Walmart is in an enterprise zone; it certainly wasn't until the city created one, so I will not further answer your half-truths.

Brad Carter said...


I agree that Firefly has "taken" alot of money from the city. I remember being at a council meeting in December that Firefly was given some other incentive. The bad part about Firefly is they have no intention of manufacturing the batteries in Peoria. They have secured another property in a different state (Indiana I think)for manufacturing. What truely makes me made is they already had military contracts for millions of dollars, and they were still begging for a handout fron Peoria.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for showing your true colors by insulting me ("semi-intelligent") and accusing me of being a liar ("your half-truths"). I can see why you are such a popular guy.

Show me which of my statements was a half-truth. I said it was a loan, you just gave us the interest rate. Your right that the county will be on the hook if Firefly doesn't pay you back. Are they currently in default?

Governments have all sorts of schemes to help business. Guys like you and Brad Carter don't want us to play the same game everyone else does. I appreciate the nobility of your position, and might even agree philosophically, but I just choose to be more realistic.