Energy Secretary Chu Defends How Administration Handled Solyndra
On May 26, 2011, the White House posted this video praising Solyndra as a Recovery Act success story.
Top Obama bundler George Kaiser made multiple visits to the White House in the months before the company was granted a $535 million loan from the government. And top Solyndra officials also made numerous visits — 20 — to the White House, according to logs and reporting by The Daily Caller. Solyndra officials in the logs included chairman and founder Christian Gronet and board members Thomas Baruch and David Prend. The company secured the $535 million loan despite the fact that it was widely known Solyndra was in deep economic trouble and had negative cash flows since its inception.
Kaiser said he did not use political influence or talk to administration officials about a massive government loan to Solyndra. However, the Solyndra investor made multiple visits to the White House in the week before the Department of Energy approved a $535 million guaranteed loan to Solyndra on March 20, 2009
But, Barack Obama had no regrets.
In fact, Barack Obama was so impressed with the failed solar company that the administration wanted to give it another $469 million on top of the $535 million to make it an even billion dollars in taxpayer cash.
In an interview with NPR Secretary of Energy Steven Chu defended the way the Obama Adiministration handled failed solar giant Solyndra.
In an interview with NPR, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu vigorously defended the actions of the Department of Energy with regards $528 million in loans it gave the now-bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra.
Chu told All Things Considered’s Melissa Block that neither he nor any of his staff working on DOE loans program was swayed by politics and that even in hindsight there was no way to know that Solyndra would fail.
President Obama’s administration has been engulfed by the Solyndra scandal for weeks. At issue is whether the White House pressured the Department of Energy to guarantee loans for Solyndra because the company had connections with at least one big Obama donor. Another question is whether the White House and the DOE ignored red flags about the company.
Chu denied all those claims and said his department did their due diligence on Solyndra.
“We improved the [loan] process,” said Chu. “We did no cut corners. We made it more thorough and diligent… We were very thorough in the application of the loan.”
Chu said the loan application was processed by professionals and the department asked “outside people” to look at market conditions; they asked for “second and third opinions about what the landscape was.” Chu added that one thing that none of their analysts anticipated was that the price of solar modules would “plummet.”
Melissa pressed Chu. She asked him how could the DOE continue issuing payments to the company even after the firm Price Waterhouse Coopers audited it and found serious issues with its finances.
Chu said that a startup that’s trying to build a new factory “would be burning through money” and have cash-flow issues.
Melissa pressed him further. As late as February of this year, just months before it filed for bankruptcy, she told him, the federal government was still dolling out money to Solyndra.
Chu said the government was aware that Solyndra was in deep trouble, but they made a calculation based on “what would protect taxpayers the most.” Chu said they weighed pulling the plug right away and ending up with a half-finished factory or continuing the loan program, which would finish the factory and if the company went belly up they could liquidate and get more money back.
Melissa also asked him about the billionaire George Kaiser, an investor in Solyndra and a Democratic donor. Emails released earlier this month, appear to show that Kaiser attempted to influence the White House on Solyndra.
Chu denied that Kaiser had any effect on his decisions.
You can listen to the interview here.