Yes indeed. Everyone knew. That was the point of last night’s post. And in fact, what you’re about to hear isn’t the first case of a Solyndra employee insisting that the whole enterprise was widely known to be a bust inside HQ. Remember this snippet from a recent Mercury News story?
One former employee, Mohammed Walahi, who began working as a process technician for Solyndra in 2005, showed up at the company Thursday morning to file a workers’ compensation claim for a repetitive stress injury and was surprised to see FBI agents instead of security guards. Solyndra’s employees were laid off with no severance pay and an immediate end to health benefits, and Walahi, 41, has a wife and two young children to support.
He lashed out at his former employer, saying Solyndra manufactured solar panels that often contained imperfections that had to be thrown away.
“At least $100,000 a day was thrown away,” Walahi said. “If they are wasting $100,000 a day, how much is that a month or a year? Of course that’s going to lead to bankruptcy.”
The latest news is that the Treasury Department is launching its own probe into Solyndra, which, given that the FBI and the Energy Department are pursuing investigations too, tells me that we’re firmly in five-alarm ass-covering mode now. Here’s the scariest part of the new report from ABC:
The $535 million loan to Solyndra included a quarterly interest rate of 1.025 percent, the government bank reported in July. Of 18 Energy Department loans cited in the bank’s report, Solyndra’s rate was lowest. Eight other Energy Department projects, each also backed by the Federal Financing Bank, came with rates three or four times higher, the report shows…
Department of Energy officials said the rates for all of its green energy loans were set by the bank using a formula, and Solyndra’s favorable terms were not the result of special treatment.
“All borrowers under the [government loan guarantee] program receive the same treatment,” Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera wrote to iWatch and ABC News in response to questions.
Given that we’re still handing out billion-dollar loans to green ventures, it’s actually more troubling to think the department’s interest-rate formula might be so skewed that it would consider Solyndra a safe investment when even low-level employees knew the business was set to crash than that this was the product of some backroom deal. How many more green boondoggles are we on the hook for thanks to that “formula”?
Here’s what I still can’t figure out: Why would a White House that staked so much political credibility on “green jobs” want a business as risky as this to be its showcase venture early on? You would think they would have gone out of their way to stick with very safe green investments at the beginning to build a track record of success. Then, as the public got comfortable, they could branch out into riskier/more cronyistic projects. As it is, by the time this is over, the term “green jobs” will practically qualify as profanity. Why would the White House blow it that badly? Who gained? Click the image to listen.