Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

FBI Raids Bankrupt Solar Company Solyndra FBI Raids Bankrupt Solar Company Solyndra

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Energy / ENERGY

FBI Raids Bankrupt Solar Company Solyndra

President Obama tours Solyndra's Fremont, Calif., headquarters on May 26, 2010. FBI agents searched the headquarters of the now-bankrupt startup on Thursday as part of a joint probe with the Energy Department.(Photo by Paul Chinn-Pool/Getty Images)

photo of Amy Harder
September 8, 2011

FBI agents on Thursday raided the now-bankrupt California solar company Solyndra as part of a joint investigation with the Energy Department. Neither agency would comment on the nature of the probe, but House Republicans have requested White House documents on federal guaranteed loans to the solar startup, which once was cited by President Obama as an example of how renewable energy could create jobs.

The maker of solar photovoltaic systems shuttered its operations and laid off 1,100 employees on Aug. 31, citing “global economic and solar-industry market conditions.” The announcement reinvigorated Republican scrutiny of the renewable energy sector and federal subsidies promoted by the administration.

Alicia Sensibaugh, spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Francisco office, told National Journal that the FBI served multiple search warrants at Solyndra's Fremont, Calif., headquarters on Thursday. Karen Sulier, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department’s inspector general, confirmed that special agents from that office also were present at the search. 

 

Solyndra’s was the third bankruptcy among U.S. solar companies in a matter of weeks. But it had been a poster child for the nascent solar industry. In May 2009 the Energy Department awarded the startup a $535 million loan guarantee, and Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu all visited the company to tout renewable energy’s potential—and its potential to generate jobs. Some Republicans have questioned the federal loan guarantees, in part because Solyndra also got significant private investments from a fundraiser for Obama.

Results of the FBI-Energy Department investigation and Thursday's raid could drive the Sept. 14 House Energy and Commerce hearing on Solyndra's loan guarantee. The panel's top Democrats on Thursday asked Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, to invite Solyndra CEO and President Brian Harrison to testify at the hearing.

“Less than two months ago, Mr. Harrison met with us and other committee members to assure us that Solyndra was in a strong financial position and in no danger of failing,” Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member Diana DeGette, D-Colo., wrote Stearns. "These assurances appear to contrast starkly with his company’s decision to file for bankruptcy last week.” 

Witnesses invited to the Sept. 14 hearing include Harrison; W.G. "Bill" Stover, Solyndra's chief financial officer; Jonathan Silver, director of the Energy Department's loans programs; and Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Energy and Commerce spokeswoman Charlotte Baker said on Thursday.

In July, Republicans on the House Energy Oversight and Investigations subcommittee voted to subpoena Office of Management and Budget documents relating to the $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra—$527 million of which the company had already received. And last week, Stearns and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., wrote White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler seeking "all documents containing communications relating to the $535 million loan guarantee" between the White House and Solyndra, and between the White House and "investors in Solyndra.”

LIKE THIS STORY? Sign up for Energy Edge

Sign up for our daily newsletter and stay on top of energy coverage.

Sign up form for Energy Edge
Job Board
Search Jobs
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Fire Sprinkler Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Charlotte, NC
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Assistant Professor - Water Resources/Ecological Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Auburn, AL
Product Manager - Chemical Development and Supply - Tulsa, OK
American Society of Civil Engineers | Tulsa, OK
Commissioning Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Chicago, IL
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Business Development Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers
Sr. Controls Systems Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Grand Island, NE
Senior Project Manager- Transportation
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Antonio, TX
Materials Engineer 2
American Society of Civil Engineers | IL
Land Surveyor
American Society of Civil Engineers
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus