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GOVERNMENT Races to Close Billions in RENEWABLE ENERGY LOAN Guarantees – Amy Harder – NationalJournal.com

September 16, 2011

Government Races to Close Billions in Renewable Energy Loan Guarantees

By Amy Harder

Updated: September 16, 2011

“Taxpayers have over $500 million at risk as a result of Solyndra’s bankruptcy,” House Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said on Wednesday. “We need to understand what happened and how we can avoid future losses.”

The Obama administration is in a race against the clock to close by month’s end more than a dozen renewable-energy loan guarantees totaling $9 billion. Of that, just over $3 billion would come from the federal government’s coffers.

It now has to do that amid an escalating political battle over a federally backed solar company spiraling into bankruptcy and facing an FBI probe. President Obama once praised the company, California-based Solyndra, as “the true engine of economic growth.”

At a House hearing Wednesday, there was bipartisan concern about risking more taxpayers’ dollars on renewable energy projects that ultimately fail. While Republicans’ rhetoric was more heated, Democrats agree it is a critical issue.

“Taxpayers have over $500 million at risk as a result of Solyndra’s bankruptcy,” House Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said on Wednesday. “We need to understand what happened and how we can avoid future losses.”

In 2009, Solyndra was the first company to receive a federal clean-energy loan guarantee as part of the stimulus package. The Fremont, Calif.-based maker of solar photovoltaic systems then received photo-op visits from Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, all touting the job-generating potential of solar and other renewable energy industries. But on Aug. 31, Solyndra shuttered operations, laying off its 1,100 workers while seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Under the Recovery Act that Obama signed into law in February 2009, the Energy Department’s loan guarantee office was given roughly $6 billion to help cover the financing of renewable energy companies applying for loans both with the Treasury Department’s Federal Financing Bank and private lenders, such as banks. Over the last couple years, Congress has peeled away about half of that for other purposes and left the department with just $2.4 billion for the renewable loan guarantee program.

via Government Races to Close Billions in Renewable Energy Loan Guarantees – Amy Harder – NationalJournal.com.

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