Even though President Obama’s green-jobs initiative was responsible for the loan guarantees to the solar energy company Solyndra, which went belly up recently, it turns out that it was another leftover from the Bush Administration that was a time bomb. Check out this press release in 2007 by President Bush’s Energy Secretary.
“Loan guarantees aim to stimulate investment and commercialization of clean energy technologies to reduce our nation’s reliance on foreign sources of energy,” Bush’s energy secretary, Sam Bodman, announced in a press release on Oct. 4, 2007. The release said the Energy Department had received 143 pre-applications for the guarantees and narrowed the list down to 16 finalists — including Solyndra. Bodman said the action put “Americans one step closer to being able to use new and novel sources of energy on a mass scale to reduce emissions and allow for vigorous economic growth and increased energy security.”
But that isn’t the only thing, it seems that the Bush administration changed it’s regulations at the last minute to the benefit of ONLY Solyndra.
Bush’s Energy Department apparently adjusted its regulations to make sure that Solyndra would be eligible for the guarantees. It hadn’t originally contemplated including the photovoltaic-panel manufacturing that Solyndra did but changed the regulation before it was finalized. The only project that benefited was Solyndra’s.
Here are some facts about Solyndra that I’m sure aren’t being discussed at Fox News or any of the other right-wing publications jumping all over this in an attempt to say, “see, clean energy sucks”.
- Solyndra was a very small piece of the policy picture – Solyndra’s $535M loan is just 1.2% of the total $38.6B loan guarantees issued by DOE. (Source: DOE.)
- All energy is subsidized and loan guarantees are equal opportunity – Guess who the biggest loan guarantee went to? Some big wind or solar boondoggle? Guess again: an $8.3B loan guarantee for a nuclear plant down in Georgia. (Source: DOE.)
- Solyndra is not the ‘solar industry’ – Solyndra failed precisely because conventional silicon-based solar is doing so well–the solar industry has reduced the cost of solar by 70% in since 2009. Solyndra had a $2/Watt technology trying to compete against $1/Watt silicon PV.
I doubt that this was a ticking time-bomb left on purpose by the Republicans, but when you look at the history of this mess, Republicans share in the culpability and might want to just shut up about it.