Energy Department Revives Loan Program That Gave Money to Solyndra

A security guard walks around an empty parking lot of bankrupt Solyndra in Fremont, Calif., Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. The Obama administration was worried about the financial health of Solyndra, a troubled solar energy company, and the political fallout it could bring even as officials publicly declared the company in good shape, newly released emails show. An email from a White House budget official to a co-worker discussed the likely effect of a default by Solyndra Inc. on Obama's re-election campaign. Solyndra is also under investigation by the FBI. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)  
National Journal
Charles S. Clark, Government Executive
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Charles S. Clark, Government Executive
Sept. 20, 2013, 10:36 a.m.

En­ergy De­part­ment of­fi­cials an­nounced they’re giv­ing a new jolt to the con­tro­ver­sial loan guar­an­tee pro­gram that be­came a polit­ic­al foot­ball fol­low­ing the 2011 bank­ruptcy of one of its be­ne­fi­ciar­ies, the Solyn­dra sol­ar pan­el maker.

As one of an ar­ray of green ini­ti­at­ives un­der new Sec­ret­ary Ern­est Mon­iz, En­ergy is re­viv­ing the pro­gram — launched in 2005 but ex­pired since com­ing un­der at­tack by con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans — with a broadened fo­cus to help the oil and gas in­dus­tries pro­du­cer clean­er en­ergy. As re­por­ted first by The New York Times, Peter Dav­id­son, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of En­ergy’s loan de­part­ment, said, “We have a real prob­lem, and that’s ‘How do we get new tech­no­logy to mar­ket?’ We part­ner with in­dustry de­velopers and en­tre­pren­eurs to demon­strate a new tech­no­logy at the in­dus­tri­al scale or util­ity scale,” be­fore hand­ing the fund­ing over to private in­vestors, he said.

En­ergy is ear­mark­ing $8 bil­lion from $50 bil­lion in ap­pro­pri­ated funds it still con­trols. Of­fi­cials have em­phas­ized that the losses from the loan pro­gram amount to only 3 per­cent of the loan guar­an­tee port­fo­lio, but law­makers con­tin­ue their skep­ti­cism, cit­ing the $535 mil­lion Solyn­dra was giv­en and $168 mil­lion giv­en to the un­suc­cess­ful elec­tric car com­pany Fisker Auto­mot­ive, whose loan the de­part­ment auc­tioned this week.

“The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has got­ten in­to the busi­ness of pick­ing win­ners and losers at a sig­ni­fic­ant cost to tax­pay­ers,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in a state­ment call­ing for an end to En­ergy’s re­lated Ad­vanced Tech­no­logy Vehicles Man­u­fac­tur­ing loan pro­gram. “From Fisker and Vehicle Pro­duc­tion Group, to the Chinese-owned A123 [green bat­tery man­u­fac­turer], this ad­min­is­tra­tion should not be mak­ing ques­tion­able in­vest­ments with the Amer­ic­an people’s hard-earned money.”

Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee Re­pub­lic­an spokes­man Robert Dillon said, “there is not a de­mand nor a need for this pro­gram — the gov­ern­ment has gone out and sought com­pan­ies.” He re­ferred Gov­ern­ment Ex­ec­ut­ive to a re­port re­leased in Feb­ru­ary by the com­mit­tee’s rank­ing mem­ber, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that re­com­mends an end to some of the loan pro­grams and a broad­en­ing of an­oth­er to “al­low a wider range of vehicle tech­no­lo­gies and pro­jects to qual­i­fy.”

What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
1 days ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
1 days ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
2 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login