September 17, 2012, Washington, D.C. — The House of Representatives passed a bill to tighten up oversight on the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program.
Titled the “No More Solyndras” Act, H.R. 6213 takes aim at the Obama administration-backed solar energy manufacturing firm that applied for bankruptcy in 2011 after receiving more than $500 million in federal support through the DOE loan guarantee program. Such loan guarantees were part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which spent multiple billions backing upstart technology companies and renewable energy installations.
The House vote September 14 was 245-161. According to reports, 22 Democrats broke ranks and voted for the bill, along with all but four Republicans.
The proposed legislation would restrict eligibility for future loan guarantees to projects that submitted applications before December 31, 2011. This could leave $34 billion in authorized money to provide financial backing to applications made before that date.
Should the bill pass into law it would also require the Treasury Department to review guarantees. The DOE to consult with Treasury on changes, terms and conditions and other aspects of loan guarantees. The bill also would impose administrative sanctions and civil penalties of $10,000 to $50,000 on federal officials who violate the requirements of the program.
The bill was introduced by Fred Upton, R-Mich., who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The California-based Solyndra was the first renewable energy company to win a loan guarantee to help it bring its cylindrical photovoltaic panels to market. After going bankrupt, some analysts and company formers blamed the company’s failure on inexpensive solar components made in China flooding the American market.
Before its bankruptcy, members of the Obama administration pointed to Solyndra and companies like it as an example of how the U.S. would build a new renewable energy economy and create green jobs. Since, Republicans have called the company an expensive government boondoggle that left taxpayers responsible for millions in mismanaged funds.