Wow: Dept of Energy still defending their ghastly failure of a loan guarantee program

Because why admit defeat, cut their (our!) losses, and quit trying to pick economic winners and losers when you can keep whining like a little girl and burning through other people’s money like there’s no tomorrow?

This week, the House GOP unveiled new draft legislation — the aptly-named No More Solyndras Act — which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The bill would phase out the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program for clean energy companies, which was expanded through the 2009 stimulus. The Obama DOE has since accumulated an impressive rap sheet of green business ventures that have either gone south or gone completely bankrupt:

Take, for instance, Beacon Power Corp., the second recipient of an Energy Department loan guarantee in 2009. In March 2010, the Massachusetts energy storage company paid cash bonuses of $259,285 to three executives in part due to progress made on the $43 million energy loan, Securities and Exchange Commission records show. Last October, Beacon Power filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

EnerDel, maker of lithium-ion battery systems, landed a $118.5 million energy grant in August 2009. About one-and-a-half years later, Vice President Joe Biden toured a company plant in Indiana and heralded its taxpayer-supported expansion as one of the “100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America.”

Two months after Biden’s visit, EnerDel corporate parent Ener1 paid $725,000 in bonuses to three executives — including $450,000 to then-CEO Charles Gassenheimer, who led Biden on the tour. This January, Ener1 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

At least two other firms that benefited from Energy Department funding — one a $500,000 grant, the other a $535 million loan guarantee — handed out hefty payouts to executives and later went bankrupt.

Should the egregious amount of taxpayer money that the Obama administration has “invested” on our behalf, and subsequently lost, deter them from continuing to do more of the same? Naaaah:

A senior DOE official will tell lawmakers Thursday that House GOP legislation called the “No More Solyndras Act” would harm the program without boosting taxpayer protections. The legislation would create new restrictions on clean energy loan guarantees.

David Frantz, the acting head of the loan programs office, says in testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee that DOE has already made a series of improvements to the program.

“This effort has included improvements to the way loan guarantees are originated and the way in which they are monitored. With these improvements in place, the department has concerns that the legislation would not result in increased taxpayer protections, but would instead hinder effective implementation of this important program,” he states in written testimony submitted for a Thursday hearing. …

“…the DOE has already made a series of improvements to the program.” Gee, how reassuring, because they have such a great record of success. I think Rep. Henry Waxman pretty succinctly summed up the Obama administration and Democrats’ attitude about this gigantic boondoggle of a program during the Energy and Commerce hearing this morning:

“I’m sorry Solyndra happened; we lost $500 million, that’s a shame. But that’s why these loan guarantees are provided, because these are risky enterprises, and not all of them are going to succeed.” …No. A thousand times, no. It is absolutely and unequivocally not the federal government’s job to make “investments,” especially not on “risky enterprises” that really only serve as an avenue for them to tout their environmental credentials to the unthinking eco-trendy masses. If the free market isn’t doing it, there’s a darn good reason why — it isn’t a very good bet, and the current regime’s glib, blasé attitude toward this whole mess is what’s really shameful here.

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David Strom 9:31 PM on December 05, 2022