Despite Solyndra’s abrupt closing and bankruptcy announcement last month, the Department of Energy (DOE) is undeterred. Just this month, the agency made two more loan guarantees worth millions of dollars to alternative energy firms.
And, as was the case with Solyndra, officials and investors with the two new companies have strong financial ties to President Barack Obama.
On September 7, the DOE announced its plan to guarantee 80 percent — or $275 million — of a $344 million private loan taken out by the firm SolarCity. The company installs rooftop solar systems that harvests electricity SolarCity then sells.
The guarantee means that if SolarCity’s project does not succeed, the DOE will use taxpayer money to pay back 80 percent of the company’s private loans
The current plan is for SolarCity to operate 160,000 systems on military bases around the country, and hire 750 workers over five years. It has been described as the “largest residential solar project in history.”
The Chairman of SolarCity, Elon Musk, is a major financial supporter of the president. On April 15 of this year, Musk donated $35,800 to the Obama Victory Fund. He also gave an additional $5,000 to the Obama campaign.
Like Solyndra officials White House visitor logs show Musk has visited the Administration at least four times since 2009.
The second company is Solexel. On September 2, the solar energy company announced a $13 million award from the DOE as part of a program to make solar energy systems more affordable for homeowners.
Solexel is financially backed by venture capitalist Steve Westly. In 2008, Westly bundled for Obama’s presidential campaign, bringing in more than $500,000. Westly also served as a California co-chair and was a member of the National Finance Committee for the Obama for American campaign.
He’s at it again for the president’s 2012 re-election campaign. So far, Westly has bundled between $100,000 and $200,000.
Westly’s companies have received millions in stimulus dollars from the Obama administration. The Westly Group’s portfolio includes Tesla Motors, which received a $465 million loan in 2009; and Amyris Biotechnologies, which got more than $24 million.
Since Solyndra closed its doors on August 31, new revelations have had onlookers questioning whether the DOE should have made the loan guarantee in the first place. As The Daily Caller previously reported, Solyndra investor Georgfe Kaiser personally gave $53,000 to Obama’s campaign in 2008. And Executive Vice President of Operations Ben Bierman gave $5,000.
Solyndra officials also visited the White House no less than 20 times from 2009 to 2011.
The loan guarantees given to Solexel and SolarCity may be significantly less than Solyndra’s $535 million, but the two companies and their financial stability are sure to be closely scrutinized in the coming weeks.
*Article has been updated to reflect that Logos Technologies is not part of Westly Group.