Energy Department Secretary Stephen Chu will testify Friday that the $535 million loan to bankrupt solar panel company Solyndra was properly vetted and an unfortunate result in an otherwise successful program.
According to excerpts of his prepared testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Chu will argue the Solyndra loan “was subject to proper, rigorous scrutiny and healthy debate during every phase of the process.”
The Energy Department’s green energy loan program has been the target of GOP investigators since Solyndra declared bankruptcy on Aug. 31. Republicans say the Solyndra loan — and the DOE loan program in general — was more concerned about advancing President Obama’s green energy initiative than properly vetting loan recipients.
The Energy Department has countered that the loan program is necessary to keep America competitive in the international renewable energy market.
“When it comes to the clean energy race, America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat,” Chu’s testimony reads. “I believe we can and must compete.”
The Energy Department also claims the Solyndra loan was extensively vetted.
“As you know, the Department has consistently cooperated with the Committee’s investigation, providing more than 186,000 pages of documents, appearing at hearings, and briefing or being interviewed by Committee staff eight times,” Chu’s testimony reads. “As this extensive record has made clear, the loan guarantee to Solyndra was subject to proper, rigorous scrutiny and healthy debate during every phase of the process.”
House Energy and Commerce Republicans are expected to grill Chu over the details of the Solyndra loan.
“Secretary Chu’s testimony should shed light on key questions about the decision-making inside the Department of Energy and the role of other agencies and officials, from the Office of Management and Budget to the west wing of the White House,” Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton and subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns said in a joint statement. “We want to hear his thoughts on why two of the first three loans made with stimulus subsidies have gone belly up. We need to understand why red flags were ignored because of the urgency to get these dollars out the door.”
“And we need to know whether this administration believes, after all we have learned, whether it was a mistake to put taxpayers on the line for half a billion dollars to this one company,” the joint statement continued.