White House tried to hurry Solyndra decision, report says

The Washington Post received e-mails showing that the White House wanted a decision on Solyndra loan guarantee in time for a planned groundbreaking event.

Solyndra

White House officials pushed reviewers in the Office of Management and Budget to make a quick decision on a loan guarantee to Solyndra, a solar panel maker that has since filed for bankruptcy, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The Washington Post obtained e-mails pertaining to a $535 million loan guarantee given to Solyndra which showed that White House officials asked for a decision to be made in time for a planned groundbreaking event with vice president Joe Biden.

One OMB official wrote, "We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews," according to the article.

The House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is scheduled to hold hearings today on Solyndra. Department of Energy officials involved in the Loan Guarantee Program will speak today and Solyndra's CEO and CFO are scheduled to testify next week.

Related stories:
• Solyndra bankruptcy was disaster waiting to happen
• Solyndra CEO questioned by FBI
• Harsh lessons from Evergreen Solar flame-out
• Why solar start-ups need Uncle Sam

The loan guarantee program was created by the Energy Act of 2005 but no company loans were approved for four years. Solyndra was the first company to receive a loan guarantee from the program, which has now dispersed over $30 billion to scale up new energy technologies, such as utility-scale solar projects.

Solyndra abruptly shut down operations at the end of August and declared bankruptcy, bringing scrutiny to the process behind approval of its loan guarantee.

Falling solar prices have contributed to two other solar company bankruptcies in the past month. But solar industry insiders had voiced concerns about Solyndra's relatively high costs for well over a year.

In a move apparently related to the loan guarantee decision, the FBI raided the offices of Solyndra last week and questioned top company executives .

A White House representative told Politico that the this particular loan guarantee decision "was merit-based and made by career staffers at the DOE," noting that the process began during President Bush's administration and that private investors put over $1 billion into the company as well.

 

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