published Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Solyndra a full-blown green energy scandal

The federal government's rush to unconstitutionally subsidize alternative energy such as wind and solar power has led to some costly consequences for taxpayers.

One of those painful consequences was obvious in the recent bankruptcy of a California solar panel manufacturer that had received a half-billion-dollar loan from the federal government through the so-called "stimulus" program. The bankruptcy means that U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for the loss -- and more than 1,000 employees at the solar company, Solyndra, are out of work.

What makes this situation even more appalling is evidence that the Obama administration applied pressure to ensure that the loan would be approved in time for a political event during which that approval would be announced. Federal workers who had the job of reviewing the loan application said that rather than being able to evaluate thoroughly whether the loan was sound, they were rushed into a decision.

Solyndra is now under investigation by the Justice Department, and Congress has begun investigating this green energy boondoggle, too. The initial indications are troubling.

At a hearing in the House of Representatives, lawmakers grilled officials from the bankrupt solar company about its business practices. In particular, they wanted to know why the head of the company had assured Congress just a couple of months earlier that the business expected to double its revenue -- when it fact it was about to go belly-up!

The taxpayer-subsidized company's responses were not illuminating. Both of the top officials from Solyndra were accompanied by criminal attorneys at the hearing, and both took the Fifth, refusing to answer any questions.

It is regrettable when a company fails. But it is worse when that company unduly received money from the government. And it is worse still when that money was provided for political reasons, and the government did not take reasonable financial precautions.

Government needs to be getting out of the subsidy business -- not expanding it.

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I wonder if the writer of this editorial is aware that the Bush Administration was responsible for creating the program (some 40 billion dollars, which Solyndra's loan represents around 1.3 percent), and that even before 2008 election, they were pressing for an approval of the loan to Solyndra.

But hey, you want to know why Solyndra failed? Not because of any actual malfeasance, but because of their business plan not working when solar energy costs went down. How? Well, try the Chinese subsidies of their own industries. Why not complain how China is working to undermine US companies?

Instead of uselessly castigating the Obama administration, focus on the real enemy.

September 28, 2011 at 12:25 a.m.
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