Dear Steve Chu: Send Us All Your DOE Files on 1705. Thanks, Congress

The Solyndra blowback continues. A love letter from the House Committee on Energy and Finance.

ERIC WESOFF 

Dear Steve Chu: Send Us All Your DOE Files on 1705. Thanks, Congress

Dear Steve Chu: Send Us All Your DOE Files on 1705. Thanks, Congress

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The Solyndra debacle is the gift that keeps on giving.

Unless you're Jonathan Silver, former head of the DOE loan program. Or unless you're Brian Harrison, the former CEO of Solyndra currently under investigation by Congress, the FBI and probably several other investigative organizations.

But if you're on the House Committee of Energy and Commerce -- Solyndra really provides a reason to get up out of bed. It is also managing to keep journalists busy.

Anyway -- I hope congressional staff members have a lot of reading time on their hands.

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The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has just requested pretty much the entire document file for every loan guarantee under the DOE's 1705 program including independent due diligence, audited financial statements, etc. Here's a link to download the letter

Realize that Solyndra was just one of about 40 loans and loan guarantees issues by the department spanning solar photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, wind farms, and biofuels.

Here's a list of just the solar loan guarantee recipients, followed by the letter from the Committee to DOE Secretary Chu.

What do Stearns and Upton hope to find amidst the mind-numbing minutiae in these files, other than LCOE calculations and capex estimates?

       

1705

 

1366 Technologies         Solar Mfg         $150M   MA

Abengoa Solar

        Solar Gen

        $1.4B

  AZ

Abengoa Solar

        Solar Gen

        $1.2B   CA

Abound Solar

        Solar Mfg

        $400M

  CO

Agua Caliente

        Solar Gen

        $967M

  AZ

BrightSource Energy

        Solar Gen

        $1.6B

  CA

Cogentrix of Alamosa

        Solar Gen

        $90.6M

  CO

First Solar (Antelope)         Solar Gen          $680M   CA
First Solar (Sunlight)         Solar Gen          $1.8B   CA
First Solar (Topaz)         Solar Gen          $1.9B   CA
Fotowatio         Solar Gen         $45.6M   NV
Sempra Mesquite         Solar Gen         $398M   AZ
NextEra (Genesis)         Solar Gen         $852M   CA
Prologis

        Solar Gen

         $1.4B   US

SolarReserve

        Solar Gen

        $734M

  NV

SoloPower

        Solar Mfg

        $197M

  OR

Solyndra Inc.

        Solar Mfg

        $535M

  CA

SunPower (CVSR)

        Solar Gen

        $1.1B

  CA

 

 

 

 

 

jgroelinger • 7 years ago

Someone mentioned "due diligence" - a point I'd like to further explore. At a high level, there are two major steps to the process before a company can lose the money it receives. First it has to receive a loan guarantee. Then it has to receive the money from a lender (because a guarantee is just that a guarantee, not money). In the 80s I was a consultant to, and then a senior officer of, the US Synthetic Fuels Corp., a US government corporation formed late in the Carter administration. Our authority was to issue federal loan guarantees to alternative energy projects. I found that, for such high-risk projects, the issuance of a US government guarantee was a necessary, but not a sufficient, step for the owners to receive funds. Financial institutions would still perform extensive due diligence on the borrower and the project, because the last thing lenders wanted to do was to try to collect from the US government against the loan guarantee. So, Ive been puzzled. Even if the US governments Department of Energy saw fit to issue the loan guarantee, what lender saw fit to actually provide the $535 million? It turns out that it was also the US government, through the Federal Financing Bank (FFB). Why was the FFB involved? According to its website, FFB has statutory authority to purchase any obligation issued, sold, or guaranteed by a federal agency to ensure that fully guaranteed obligations are financed efficiently. Was there no other source of efficient financing? Did the FFB perform any due diligence? Did the FFB step up because independent lenders wouldn't lend to Solyndra despite the loan guarantee? Was this a package deal that bypassed what would normally be a legitimate third-party project review? The answers to these questions would show the extent to which this was a political or a business deal. If it was a business deal, I'd agree that all deals don't turn out to be winners. If, however, this was a political deal, shame on those involved.

 

 

Dr. Lewis Fraas, Editor, Solar • 7 years ago

For the record: Solyndra discussion between Dr. Lewis Fraas at JX Crystals Inc and Jason Strauch at Sandia National Labs (a DOE LAB) on March 30, 2009Jason Here are my comments on the Solyndra deal.Solyndra is a tragic waste of money. The circumference of a circle is (Pi)D. If they deposit the CIGS on the circumference of the tubes, they are creating a low efficiency semiconductor with area of (Pi)D. The sun at any time during the day will illuminate an area = D. This is the inverse of concentration. Their utilization of the semiconductor material is 1/(Pi) or 1/3.14 = 0.32. I guess they really don't believe in motors for tracking and they do believe in paint with efficiency of 9% or now it is 9/3.14 = 2.9%. How stupid can people be??This is the thin film fantasy carried to even higher levels of incredibility. Also, they have a drawing and we have a photo of our 3-sun PV module and 2.5 years of operation.This should be a funny joke accept that they are serious. I looked at their web site. I do not see a module spec sheet. Also everything seems to be art work with no photos or performance data whatsoever. Has Sandia or NREL or any other gov lab tested this hypothetical product before the DOE issued this guaranteed loan? Lewis

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    R. Marks • 7 years ago

    I beleive the whole process of giving loans is politically corrupt. Why is it that most loans go to CA based companies? My real issue is with the ATVMIP program for rebuilding the auto industry to produce advanced technology vehicles. This program was passed in 2008 as part of the trouble assets bill. Of the $25B in loans, there is $17B remaining which have not been given out. In June of 2009 Ford, Nissan, and Tesla were given loans, Fisher followed in September. None of the remaining 75+ applications have received anything. Now to my point: Tesla is in Polosi's district and it is reported that her VC husband is a Tesla investor, and then Fisker, is in Biden's home state. Now how does this process really work??

     

     

    ramon • 7 years ago

    Solyndra goes far beyond just being a bad loan. It was only one of many crooked deals that have been used to enrich party faithful and administration relatives. Those seeking to cover up these deals or excuse them as simply a bad investment are ignoring the sleaze and incompetence involved. No one who looks at the actions of Chu and his dept and the White House can possible claim that this was an isolated case. I also note Obama's purchase of $150 billion in GM stock, now worth about half that amount. That loan was payback to the UAW and other unions, who contributed half of Obama's campaign funds in the last election. He called it a "good investment." Well, for him I suppose it was - he can count of plenty of support from those unions next election. This is called buying votes and campaign contributions, using taxpayer money. Obama has a history of corruption and throwing away money by the bucketful. Anyone who defends this kind of behavior is just as crooked as he is. And what about Evergreen Solar? And what about that brilliantly conceived "weatherization program"? It doesn't take much digging to find plenty of dirt and filth in this crooked administration. Now we learn that Pelosi's relatives were benefiting from all these corporate loans as well. Seems like the entire Democratic Party is involved. Pack of thieves.

     

     

    SolarEnima • 7 years ago

    Eric, thanks for this continued coverage.By the way, keep in mind, not all modules are made alike and appropriate for all applications. Also, before investing, it is called...due diligence. Not because it is a trendy company with lots of schwag and marketing hype, liquidated shares and inflated stock prices.FirstSolar - Hmmm, $4.38 billion in DOE loans and down to $60/share already (from $160 only six months ago!), I can't imagine what's going to happen if the House Committee of Energy and Commerce held the loan process up? Do ya think any execs sold at 300 in May 2008?...go figure, only suckers buy solar at that price.Does anyone know how Abengoa got on the list? Aren't there other American companies that could have benefitted from loans? As per Google Finance "Abengoa SA is a Spain-based company, which principal activities range from solar energy to industrial waste, information technology and engineering" Sounds fishyIn my opinion, it would have been nice to see many smaller solar installer companies benefit from loans. Since when did Solar Manufacturers excel in installing solar? Why don't us little guys just move out of the way and let the SunPower and First Solars who are in bed with the DOE install solar. How many of those Solar companies have NABCEP certified installers installing solar for their jobs?? once again...go figure Check those First Solar systems in the desert in nine years and see how many modules didn't make the 90% power warranty cut?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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