- Category: Politics
02 Aug 2012
- Published on Thursday, 02 August 2012 10:23
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A provision to end the current United States administration's loan guarantee program, known as the “No More Solyndras Act,” has been moving forward in the U.S. House of Representatives, after the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee approved it at a vote of 29 to 19 on August 1.
The act was the end result of an investigation into the $535 million loan guarantee given by the Department of Energy to solar manufacturer Solyndra, which went bankrupt September last year.
The decision comes after a recent Wall Street Journal report on the now-defunct California-based solar panel maker Solyndra chapter 11 bankruptcy plan, that warned “there’s bad news for U.S. taxpayers: Estimates are $24 million of a $527 million government loan will be repaid, and that’s not a sure thing.”
“This bill recognizes both our current fiscal challenges and our understanding that the federal government is ill-suited to be gambling the taxpayers’ dollars with this sort of company-specific investment,” said Committee Chair Fred Upton.
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Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns meanwhile said President Obama “wants to continue committing” taxpayer dollars to “risky ‘green’ jobs scheme,” considering the country’s national debt is approaching $16 trillion.
Meanwhile, the Solar Energy Industries Association, one of the supporters of the loan guarantee program, said the committee disregarded the “significant economic and energy policy benefits” associated with the program.
“Both Congress and the administration identified ways to improve the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program to ensure that taxpayer dollars are protected and used wisely,” said S.E.I.A. chief Rhone Resch in a statement.
“We must improve and preserve the integrity of the D.O.E. Loan Guarantee Program rather than hinder our nation’s ability to develop innovative energy infrastructure projects,” she added.
Meanwhile American Council on Renewable Energy President Dennis McGinn wrote in a blog for The Hill that while the loan guarantee program can be improved and that taxpayers “certainly deserve” accountability, the “No More Solyndras Act” was “unnecessarily damaging,” to businesses and goes “far beyond reasonable reforms.”
“The DOE Load Guarantee Program has experienced several recent setbacks, but Solyndra is not indicative of the program writ large,” he said.
Mr. McGinn also debunked the belief of the program’s detractors that renewables are “failing to advance,” even with government support, by saying that the American renewable energy is “actually thriving”, with many success stories demonstrating the value of continuing the Loan Guarantee Program.
“In Arizona, First Solar has partnered with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and NRG Systems to finance and build a 290-MW solar power plant. They are well ahead of schedule, with 200 MW already installed. This project is supported by a $967 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy and will soon be providing clean, renewable electricity for the taxpayers who helped fund it,” he said.
He does concede that the Loan Guarantee Program is not perfect, and he acknowledges Congress is right to look for ways to improve government investment in promising renewable energy technologies.
“But the ‘No More Solyndras’ Act in its current form does not achieve this. Instead, [it] destroys a program that can ultimately promote American ingenuity, create jobs and offer a more diverse energy supply for years to come,” he adds. – N.P. Arboleda