Solyndra, Inc. was supposed to have showcased the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s stimulus and green jobs initiatives, but instead it has become the center of congressional attention for waste, fraud and abuse of such programs.
According to a Feb. 17 letter signed by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Fremont, Calif.-based solar panel manufacturer squandered $535 million of stimulus money.
The company became the first recipient of an Energy Department loan guarantee under the stimulus in March 2009, which was intended to “finance construction of the first phase of the company’s new manufacturing facility” for photovoltaic solar panels.
The Energy Department estimated in a March 20, 2009 press release that the loan guarantee would create 3,000 construction jobs and a further 1,000 jobs after the plant opened.
“These jobs are the jobs that are going to define the 21st century that will allow America to compete and to lead like we did in the 20th century,” Biden said.
According to Biden’s speech, the $535 million loan guarantee was a smaller part of the $30 billion of stimulus money the administration planned to spend as part of its Green Jobs Initiative.
Obama made similar claims in a May 26, 2010 speech at the plant, but the 1,000 jobs he and Biden touted in their respective speeches failed to materialize.
Instead, Solyndra announced on Nov. 3 it planned to postpone expanding the plant, which cost the taxpayers $390.5 million, or 73 percent of the total loan guarantee, according to the Wall Street Journal.