Last Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the No More Solyndras Act, which aims to phase out the DOE’s loan guarantee program.
The Act is the results of the almost 18-month long investigation into the DOE loan guarantee program, brought into the limelight thanks to Solyndra’s bankruptcy.
The No More Solyndras Act stipulates that no new loan guarantees be issued for applications received after 2011, and forbids the DOE from restructuring any loan guarantee under the program. The DOE would also be required to report to Congress regarding decisions on pending and existing loans.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), one of the key authors of the bill, says the objective of the legislations is “to ensure taxpayers are never again stuck paying hundreds of millions of dollars because of the Obama administration’s risky bets.”
The bill passed the committee in a 29-19 vote, with two Republicans voting against it, and three Democrats voting for it.
“As we work to put our nation’s fiscal house back in order, folks in Michigan deserve the peace of mind in knowing that their hard-earned tax dollars are not squandered on risky bets like Solyndra,” said Rep. Upton.
“As our investigation of the stimulus-backed loan guarantee revealed, the Obama administration ignored the warnings time and again, ultimately leaving taxpayers on the hook for more than half a billion dollars,” he continued. “The ‘No More Solyndras Act’ demands greater transparency to protect the American taxpayer and phases out the failed loan guarantee program.”
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) questions witnesses at the No More Solyndras Act hearing. Credit: whitfield.house.gov
Writing in The Hill, Dennis McGinn, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy said the consequences of the Act “go far beyond reasonable reforms” and are “unnecessarily damaging to business.”
Both he and Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, agreed that the loan guarantee program could be improved, but that this Act instead suppresses a successful program.
“Unfortunately, the bill passed by the committee today disregards the significant economic and energy policy benefits associated with the program,” said Resch. “We must improve and preserve the integrity of the DOE Loan Guarantee Program rather than hinder our nation’s ability to develop innovative energy infrastructure projects.”
McGinn argued that Solyndra is an outlier and is not an accurate indicator of the program’s success. “On the contrary, the program has outperformed the expectations of the bipartisan Congress that created it in 2005, only recently seeing several companies stumble in the wake of difficult global economic forces,” said McGinn.
“The 2005 Congress was well aware of future uncertainty, and even appropriated a fund designated to cover any losses. Today, 95% of that fund is still available to help protect the taxpayer from outlying cases like Solyndra.”
The Act will now be considered by the House of Representatives.