Politics

Solyndra told Congress it was ‘on track’ before bankruptcy

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor

Just months before it declared bankruptcy, now-bankrupt and scandal-ridden solar company Solyndra painted a rosy picture of its future for members of Congress.

In a June memo titled “Exceeding Expectations: Solyndra Today” and a letter to several members of Congress, Solyndra claimed it was “on track” and “ramping up production” to meet revenue and job-creation goals set by the Department of Energy, which had loaned the solar start-up $535 million.

A July letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee said, “Solyndra’s revenues grew from $6 million in 2008 to $100 million in 2009 to $140 million in 2010. For 2011, revenues are projected to nearly double again.”

Instead, Solyndra announced on Aug. 31 that it was declaring bankruptcy and laying off more than 1,000 employees. Days later, it was raided by the FBI.

Company executives cited foreign competition — specifically from China, which also heavily subsidizes its solar industry — as a leading reason for its financial insolvency.

Yet in the July letter Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison said his firm was “an example of a U.S. company using American innovation and ingenuity to compete in the global solar market.” (RELATED: Documents show Solyndra sought second government loan guarantee for $469 million)

After the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into Solyndra and the details of its federal loan, Harrison and Solyndra CFO Bill Stover agreed to testify at a congressional hearing. An email disclosed by the committee confirms this.

“As I discussed a few moments ago, the CEO of Solyndra, Brian Harrison will appear voluntarily and answer the Committee’s questions on any day the Committee chooses, beginning next week and continuing thereafter,” the email reads. “He will appear without any need to issue a subpoena. I respectfully request this delay for the reasons I described, particularly the possible benefit to the taxpayer.” (RELATED: Law firms representing Solyndra executives are major Democratic donors)

It was disclosed on Tuesday by the committee that lawyers representing Solyndra then sent notification that their clients would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer specific questions.

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