In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Republicans leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee warned the Department of Energy not to proceed hastily as it prepares to dish out an addition $9 billion in loan guarantees to “green” companies made available by the stimulus package. The legislation stipulates that all loan guarantees must be finalized by Sept. 30, 2011, and despite the embarrassing spectacle surrounding its $535 million loan to the failed solar-panel company Solyndra, the administration appears to be scrambling to get that remaining funding out the door before the deadline.
In the letter, Committee chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.), Energy and Power Subcommittee chairman Ed Whitfield (R., Ky.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.) requested information regarding the financial condition of the 14 potential loan recipients DOE is considering ahead of the September 30 deadline.
“During the course of our investigation, the Committee has identified several documents which suggest that the timetable to issue the Solyndra loan guarantee was accelerated in order to meet stimulus deadlines, impacting the quality and comprehensiveness of DOE’s and OMB’s due diligence,” they write. “Now that Solyndra has declared bankruptcy, we cannot help but wonder whether additional time to review this guarantee might have prevented the taxpayers from being on the hook for the $535 million loaned to the company.”
“With so much of DOE’s Section 1705 Loan Guarantee portfolio not yet finalized, and the September 30, 2011, stimulus deadline to close these guarantees just days away, we are concerned that another rush to meet stimulus deadlines will result in DOE closing these deals before they are ready.”
The stimulus package allocated a total of $18 billion in loan guarantees, but since its passage in February 2009, the Obama administration has awarded only half that amount.
Two top Solyndra executives are set to testify before the committee on Friday, but have announced they will plead the Fifth Amendment and decline to answer question, as they are currently being investigated by the FBI.