A congressional investigative committee interrogated government officials Wednesday about why they supported giving a $535 million loan package to the recently failed California solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.
Republicans on the committee said they wanted to know why the Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget approved the loans in 2009, and further, why they then restructured the loans in February despite mounting evidence that the company was not financially sound.
The answer, officials said, was that investing in new technology is a high-risk business, but in the case of alternative energy, a risk worth taking. —BF
Los Angeles Times:
Solyndra, which was hailed by President Obama in 2010 as an innovative company that would use stimulus money to create jobs and lead the economic recovery, laid off most of its 1,100 workers Aug. 31 and announced it would cease operations. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 6.
Two days later, agents with the FBI and Energy Department’s inspector general served a search warrant at Solyndra’s Fremont headquarters. The company’s failure and the criminal investigation have raised questions about the administration’s decision to pour billions of dollars into clean-energy programs.
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), the subcommittee’s chairman, pressed Energy Department loans director Jonathan Silver on Wednesday to explain how the agency could approve more than half a billion dollars in loans despite questions about the company’s financial health.
He also cited internal emails that he said show White House officials appeared to be pressuring Energy Department and the Office of Management and Budget to speed up approval of the Solyndra loans.
Flickr / jurvetson (CC-BY)
President Obama gives a speech at the then-new Solyndra manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif., last year.