Administration warned of Solyndra options

Aug. 2, 2012 at 8:59 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- A White House analyst warned that saving the California energy company Solyndra would cost more than letting it fail, a congressional investigation indicated.

The investigation indicated the budget analyst calculated that millions of taxpayer dollars might be saved by cutting the government's losses on the flagship of President Obama's initiative to promote alternative energy, closing the company and selling its assets, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Even with the warning, senior officials in the White House's Office of Management and Budget did not dissuade the Energy Department from proceeding with its plan to restructure a federal loan to now-shuttered solar panel-maker, the investigation by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee found. Despite the restructuring, Solyndra failed anyway, leaving federal taxpayers responsible for much of the $500-plus million federal loan.

Wednesday, the House committee passed the "No More Solyndras Act," which would phase out the Energy Department's loan guarantee program for clean-energy initiatives, require more transparency and prohibit the department from restructuring loan guarantees without consulting the Treasury Department.

The House panel is to release results its 18-month investigation into Solyndra this week. Its report, some of which was obtained by the Post, intimate then-OMB Director Jack Lew allowed the refinancing to proceed without intervention despite questions about its legality.

Solyndra shut its doors in August 2011 and defaulted on its loan. The FBI later raided its offices in a criminal investigation into whether the company misled the government about its finances.

Republicans have accused the administration of favoring Solyndra because its major investors were funds tied to billionaire George Kaiser, a fundraiser for the president. The White House has denied the accusation.

Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said the department stands by its earlier decision on restructuring Solyndra's loan.

"The record clearly shows that decisions related to this loan were made solely on the merits after careful review by experts in our loan program," LaVera said in a statement. "That includes the shared determination by our career lawyers and outside legal experts that the decision to permit the restructuring of the loan agreement was legal."

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