Chu Takes Responsiblity For Solyndra Loan

by Andrew Stiles

The Washington Post reports that Energy Secretary Steven Chu has acknowledged making the final decision to continue funding Solyndra even after the failed solar company technically defaulted on its initial $535 million loan guarantee:

Chu spokesman Damien La­Vera said in a statement that the secretary approved the restructuring agreement for Solyndra because it gave the company “the best possible chance to succeed in a very competitive marketplace and put the company in a better position to repay the loan.”

In April 2010, the company’s auditors raised doubts about whether the company could continue as a “going concern” because of cash-flow problems. The following month, Obama visited the company to praise it as an “engine of growth.”

In late autumn of 2010, company executives confided to the Energy Department that they were running out of cash and could not make a required payment to a cash-reserve account. The company was supposed to begin making the first of $5 million payments to create a $30 million cash reserve on Dec. 1.

Solyndra officially defaulted on its loan that day. Chu approved a softening of the loan requirements so that the company could continue receiving loan installments.

“Ultimately, the choice was between imminent liquidation or giving the company and its workers a fighting chance to succeed,” LaVera said in the statement, first reported by Politico.

The agency authorized the Federal Financing Bank to give two additional cash installments to Solyndra — one in December 2010 and another in January 2011. Both payments came before Energy Department officials finalized a deal to restructure the loan and forestall the company’s collapse in late February.

As you’ll recall, that restructuring agreement gave private investors priority over American taxpayers with respect to the first $75 million recovered in the event of Solyndra’s collapse.

Chu is tentatively scheduled to testify next month before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.