Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Solyndra: Bankrupting Clean Energy

Currently there is a Congressional hearing looking into the Solyndra loan debacle, [Solyndra is a California based solar energy company who filed bankruptcy this summer after having received $528 million in guaranteed loans from the Dept. of Energy in 2009], but truly it is clean energy investing that is on trial by the Committees’ Republicans. Seemingly as a result of this beating, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) announced today that he is scheduling a hearing on U.S. clean energy investments as compared to other countries for the coming weeks. An interesting note on this subject too is that Sen. Bingaman was integral in the existence of the law allowing the DOE to authorize guaranteed loans as he helped develop it. When asked specifically, Sen. Bingaman said he didn’t think that his hearing would touch on the Solyndra bankruptcy (as it is currently being investigated), but he did go on to say that “the Solyndra bankruptcy shouldn’t be used to cut clean-energy investment.”

Well Senator, you should have words with Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who chairs the energy and commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations heading the Solyndra investigation. According to NPR, Rep. Stearns was just quoted today as saying "We can't compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines," and he “doesn't believe in any type of subsidy for industry.” Rep. Stearns words are clearly at odds with Sen. Bingaman's own which is perhaps why Sen Bingaman decided to have his own hearing to determine the future of clean energy investing. Ironically, Rep. Stearns signed the original bill allowing for the DOE to authorize loan guarantees. And for perspective, Rep. Stearns also voted to continue oil subsidies totaling $21 billion just a few months ago which, if you are keeping score at home, is in fact a “subsidy for industry.”

If Rep. Stearns has his way, he will use the Solyndra fiasco to undue all clean energy investments in the future. Attacking the investments by saying, "I think the administration is putting taxpayers' money at risk in areas that are not creating jobs." One rebuttal is from NPR’s Yoki Noguchi: “Solyndra was just one of the clean energy projects and businesses that got loan guarantees from a Department of Energy program that ended Friday. In all, it financed 28 projects. The Energy Department says the projects will create about 17,000 construction and permanent jobs.”

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