An ethanol-maker in South Dakota goes for Chapter 11. It's VeraSun, hit by a combo of high clorn prices, and tight credit. Even though corn prices are now only about half of their record $8 per bushel from mid-summer, VeraSun is feeling the pinch and is "re-organizing." Their stock, of course, is in the toilet, down below 50-cents per share. They have been operating sixteen ethanol plants in eight states.
Want some irony? VeraSun hired Morgan Stanley--one of the bailed-out banks--to help them evaluate their financial strategy. Why didn't they just ask for some bail-out money? Here's VeraSun's own description of their move.
A single ethanol plant operator in Ohio has already filed for bankruptcy in October. Overall, the picture for alternative energy investment looks grim and those companies that are publicly traded are hurting worse than the overall stock market. Starting to run low on juice, California-based electric carmaker, Tesla, is now looking for more funding. Not a happy time for anybody needing cash.
While lowered fossil fuel prices are going to continue to call alternative energy into question, two factors will still make green tech look good going forward. A weakened economy means any energy-conservation efforts that save significantly on energy use will be welcomed by any business or homeowner. Also, there's still the issue of global warming which could transcend mere economic considerations as the consquences become more evident and more severe.