Bloomberg News

Issa Seeks Information on $4.75 Billion in Loan Guarantees

October 10, 2011

(Updates with comment from Energy Department official in seventh paragraph.)

Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Republicans are expanding their investigation into a U.S. loan guarantee program beyond Solyndra LLC to four awards issued on the effort’s final day.

Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Oct. 7 requesting documents relating to $4.75 billion in awards on Sept. 30, when funding for the program ran out.

Issa is requesting communications between Energy Department officials and employees at Exelon Corp., NextEra Energy Inc., General Electric Co., and NRG Energy Inc., which purchased projects from two solar companies, among other documents.

Republicans have said Solyndra’s $535 million loan guarantee was rushed for political considerations, leading federal reviewers of the loan to overlook evidence the Fremont, California, solar panel maker was a risky bet. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6.

The guarantees “given on the last day of the program raise similar concerns,” Issa wrote.

The awards Issa is examining were developed by Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar Inc., SunPower Corp. of San Jose, California, and ProLogis Inc. of San Francisco.

‘Did Not Rush’

“Every application in our portfolio underwent many months of due diligence from career professionals in the loan program and outside experts, and many of those projects received bipartisan support,” Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the department, said in an e-mail. “We did not rush to close any deals before the September 30 deadline.”

Issa wrote Chu to support an Energy Department loan for Aptera Motors Inc., a Carlsbad, California-based electric-car maker, according to a letter received by the department Jan. 14, 2010.

“Awarding this opportunity to Aptera Motors will greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district,” Issa wrote at the time.

Issa said on Fox News Sunday that while it’s common for lawmakers to push projects in their districts, they don’t have the power to “actually pick winners and losers.”

First Solar received guarantees of $646 million for its 230-megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Ranch 1 project in Los Angeles County, and $1.46 billion for its 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight plant in Riverside County, California.

The solar company sold the Antelope project to Exelon, while NextEra and GE purchased Desert Sunlight.

SunPower received a $1.24 billion guarantee for a 250- megawatt solar project in California and sold it to NRG.

--Editor: Larry Liebert

--Editor: Larry Liebert

--Editor: Larry Liebert

--Editor: Larry Liebert

--With assistance from Christopher Martin in New York and Andrew Herndon in San Francisco. Editors: Larry Liebert, Andrea Snyder

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Snyder in Washington at jsnyder24@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net


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