Republicans trying to turn this in to Obama’s whitewater… but facts suggests this was Bush’s!
It’s often claimed that the Solyndra loan guarantee was “rushed through” by the Obama administration for political reasons. In fact, the Solyndra loan guarantee was a multi-year process that the Bush administration launched in 2007.
You’d never know from the media coverage that:
The Bush team tried to conditionally approve the Solyndra loan just before President Obama took office.
The company’s backers included private investors who had diverse political interests.
The loan comprises just 1.3 percent of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) overall loan portfolio. To date, Solyndra is the only loan that’s known to be troubled.
May 2005: Just as a global silicon shortage begins driving up prices of solar photovoltaics, Solyndra is founded to provide a cost-competitive alternative to silicon-based panels.
July 2005: The Bush administration signs the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law, creating the 1703 loan guarantee program.
February 2006 – October 2006: In February, Solyndra raises its first round of venture financing, worth $ 10.6 million from CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and U.S. Venture Partners. In October, Argonaut Venture Capital, an investment arm of George Kaiser, invests $ 17 million into Solyndra. Madrone Capital Partners, an investment arm of the Walton family, invests $ 7 million. Those investments are part of a $ 78.2 million fund.
December 2006: Solyndra applies for a loan guarantee under the 1703 program.
Late 2007: Loan guarantee program is funded. Solyndra was one of 16 clean-tech companies deemed ready to move forward in the due diligence process. The Bush administration DOE moves forward to develop a conditional commitment.
October 2008: Then Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet touted reasons for building in Silicon Valley and noted that the “company’s second factory also will be built in Fremont, since a Department of Energy loan guarantee mandates a U.S. location.”
November 2008: Silicon prices remain very high on the spot market, making non-silicon based thin film technologies like Solyndra’s very attractive to investors. Solyndra also benefits from having very low installation costs. The company raises $ 144 million from ten different venture investors, including the Walton-family run Madrone Capital Partners. This brings total private investment to more than $ 450 million to date.
January 2009: In an effort to show it has done something to support renewable energy, the Bush administration tries to take Solyndra before a DOE credit review committee just one day before President Obama is inaugurated. The committee, consisting of career civil servants with financial expertise, remands the loan back to DOE because it wasn’t ready for conditional commitment.
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