Will Abound Solar be the next Solyndra? The Obama administration gave the Colorado solar panel manufacturer $68 million in subsidies — a down payment on almost $370 million approved by the Department of Energy – before the company suddenly closed its doors and went bankrupt. The district attorney in Weld County has now opened a criminal investigation into Abound, as its business practices and its products look more and more suspicious:
A bankrupt Longmont-based company that received $68 million in stimulus money is under investigation by the Weld County district attorney’s office. …
7NEWS obtained internal documents from 2012 that show orders for tens of thousands of replacement solar panels. The orders cite different reasons for the replacements including, “low performance,” “under performance” and “catastrophic failures.”
The orders are for replacements requested after the Department of Energy stopped stimulus money payments to Abound.
“These are solar panels we are now seeing reports that said they worked as long as you didn’t put them in the sun,” said Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. “Now the question is did the (Department of Energy) — did they know something that the rest of should have known? Did Abound not tell the DOE something? These are questions that need to be answered.”
Gardner, one of the Tea Party freshmen in Congress, told the news station he wants a Congressional investigation into how Abound ended up with $68 million of taxpayer funds with their track record of failure:
Gardner represents northern Colorado in Congress. He confirmed with 7NEWS that he will be sending a letter to the Department of Energy seeking records and information about what it knew while providing money to Abound. Gardner sits on the Energy and Commerce committee which oversees the Department of Energy loan program that provided money to Abound.
“We need to know, did the Department of Energy — did they close on the loan when they knew there were technical problems with the product?” said Gardner. “The fact that we have taxpayers on the hook for $70 million means that we, in Congress, have a responsibility to make sure nothing was done improperly.”
That’s not the only investigation for the defunct solar maker. Apparently, even after getting $68 million from the Obama administration for its poor-quality solar panels, they couldn’t pay their local property tax bill, either. That may or may not be part of the Weld County probe at the moment, but if it’s not, there will probably be another one to find the missing tax payments.
In other words, Abound was pretty good about taking tax dollars, but lousy at paying the taxes it owed.
This probe will definitely raise more questions about the vetting done at DoE, who were entrusted to invest their funds carefully. As events at Solyndra proved, those concerns got subordinated — along with taxpayer dollars — to politics.