Energy department faces questions about Solyndra loan

The federal Energy Department came under fire Wednesday as it was questioned by Congress about its decision to support a loan to Solyndra, the now-bankrupt company that had been the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s green energy stimulus.

The $528 million loan from taxpayer money had been given to Solyndra in 2009 to explore renewable energy through solar panel technology and to create more jobs during the economic downturn.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will look into whether the Energy Department rushed approval of the loan or restructured the loan despite knowledge of the company’s financial troubles.

“You should have protected the taxpayers and made some forceful actions here,” Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) said during the hearings.

Solyndra went bankrupt Sept. 6, but emails show the company had concerns about remaining solvent since the beginning of this year. Company officials cite competing prices from outside sources such as China.

“The rest of the world takes the industry enormously seriously,” said Jonathan Silver, Energy Department loans director. “It’s a multitrillion-dollar market that will create tens of thousands of jobs. We invented this technology and we should produce it here. … This is a battle we must fight and win.”