Clean Power

Published on September 26th, 2011 | by Susan Kraemer


Another “Solyndra” Project Sacrificed in Republican Attack on FEMA

September 26th, 2011 by  

The latest casualty of the Republican-held House, in its witch hunt against renewable energy, is a huge distributed solar project that would have doubled the number of solar rooftop installs in the US, while cutting electricity costs to practically nothing for hard-pressed military families, many of whom return home to lives of long term disability and resulting hardship.

In partnership with military housing developers, SolarCity was to have installed as many as 160,000 solar roofs on military family housing, supplying cheaper and cleaner electricity from their own roofs. Its SolarStrong military program would have doubled the number of solar roof installations in the US – there are only 166,000 solar rooftops as of this Spring. Solar City would get a $275 million loan from USRG Renewable Finance for the project, and the Department of Energy would provide the loan guarantee.

But, due to the Solyndra witch hunt, the project has been halted.

Secretary Chu received a letter from the committee on September 20th warning of a slew of new requirements as part of the Solyndra witch hunt. As a result, the Department of Energy contacted SolarCity with the news that it will be impossible to finalize the loan guarantee for the 371 MW SolarStrong project on time. In addition to the red tape,

Then yesterday Republicans clawed back the last funding for “Solyndra” loan guarantees.

The Republicans had been refusing to fund FEMA costs this year unless the funding is offset, preferring to taking the money from renewable energy funding. Growing more renewable energy is the only government policy with a solution to rising FEMA costs, but party policy is not to believe in climate change.

First they attempted to take $1.5 billion from the clean car loan program, to offset disaster relief, but failed to attract enough Democrats who refused to offset disaster relief with $1.5 billion from renewable energy funding to make up for a defection by 48 Republicans in states desperate for FEMA funds this year, and on Friday that vote failed.

On Monday they succeeded in sacrificing the Solyndra loan guarantees. The Republican-held House was able to garner enough votes from its own caucus by stripping $100 million from the DOE loan guarantee program that financed the Solyndra guarantee, as their condition for passing the continuing budget resolution on Monday including key disaster relief funds for the states that suffered from wildfires, floods and tornadoes this year.

Bolstered by the hysteria they have created over the last few months over supposed Solyndra wrongdoing, congressional Republicans have so increased the red tape that nearly all the renewable energy loan guarantees have slowed to a crawl.

But in offsetting disaster funds for the first time in US history, Republicans have set a precedent for conditions on help for those who will be caught in the ever more expensive climate disasters caused by their shortsighted climate policy of “drill, baby, drill”.

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

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  • Ed

    Solyndra was not a witch hunt. It was a failed venture that the Fed’s had no business getting into. Us Republicans understand the need for the government to fund research and help it get to private enterprise to finance and develop. As it turns out, Bank of America funded the project as they should have if it was a worthy project. You histeria only makes matters worse by villifying people who do not totally agree with you. Your obvious left wing announcements only polorize people. I suggest you be as objective as you can be as everything cannot be all one way or the other. There is a sensible middle that can serve all of us.

    • Ed: The US loan guarantee program has been wildly successful. The Feds had a purpose in implementing the program and did very well at it. The problem is that with one failure (do private investors not having any failed in investments?) was turned into a bunch of nonsense it wasn’t (i.e. the GOP’s incessant, incorrect claims of crony capitalism.) And the party very much did turn this into a witch hunt. Without finding any witches, it now just makes stuff up about how it was ‘crony capitalism’.

  • Robert Simoneau

    Please be more specific and provide the names of the specific Republicans so we know who not to vote for and so we can also work to end their term in office. Remember it is the 98% of the bad Republicans that make the other 2% look bad.

    Thank you!

    • Anonymous

      Vote them all out. Not a single Republican has shown the character needed to stand up to their leaders and vote differently than the crowd.

      The 2% are enablers. Toss them as well.

      These elected officials have placed making President Obama a one term president above the welfare of the country. They have intentionally harmed America by blocking our economic recovery.

      They deserve to get booted. Let conservatives find some new candidates who put America before party.

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  • joelsk44039

    Solyndra “witch hunt?” Apparently the author doesn’t believe that a cost to the American taxpayer of over $500 million needs some explaining.

    In other times, the executives of Solyndra would have been “burnt at the stake.” Now, instead, they take the 5th amendment instead.

  • Ed

    Dear Susan, you comments about the Solyndra Witch hunt is unfair. 553 million dollars waisted because O’Bummer wanted a special moment in front of the camera. I want more solar power but our president helped ruin the future of solar for his own political gain. As far as future projects, it looks like we do not have the money. Special note, 15 trillion in debt. This project you like so well, why don’t you loan them the money. You seem to feel free giving away other peoples money.

  • Anonymous

    The project may not be dead. Apparently more paperwork is being required which will mean that they will miss the September 30 deadline.

    October 1 is the start of a new federal fiscal year. It’s not clear when the loan could be granted in the new fiscal year.

    “DOE, however, told Bloomberg that requirements for the loan program have not changed. “All of the extensive due diligence and legal documentation simply cannot be completed by Sept. 30,” DOE Spokesman Damien LaVera told Bloomberg in an email. “The questions surrounding the Solyndra application had no impact on other applications, including this one.””

    • Susan Kraemer

      That is an atypical quote, Bob.

      The quotes I have read within the DOE do cite the last few months’ witch hunt as increasing the red tape requirements to the point that the last $9 billion of the Section 1705 loan guarantees will be unable to be done in time.

      I don’t share your optimism that it will be reinstated in FY2102, given this congress, but let’s hope…

  • Robert_DeGraw

    And why wouldn’t these massive loans and incompetently supervised projects be put under the knife? It would be one thing to have both legitimate priorities set for projects of possible benefit, but who can trust ANY bureaucrat or connected capitalist (read donor)? There is no serious oversight or follow through on government programs … Democrat OR Republican. Obama’s uncle is here illegally for over ten years WITH benefits and his Auntie Zitune is in public housing after a crony judge overturned deportation orders. It’s not just Congress with a 12% approval rating … It’s ALL government until proven otherwise.

    • Anonymous

      Robert, you need to step away from the dumb pipe.

      Get out and travel the world. Go somewhere that doesn’t have the highways and airports we have, somewhere where it’s not safe to drink the water, some place where there’s no public educational system. To say that our government gets nothing right is just maximally ignorant.

      One very small part of the attempt to put this country back on its feet failed. There’s no reason to expect every single project to succeed. If you think that’s what happens in the real world you’ve never run a business.

      Do you not know that on average successful people fail about three times before they get it right?

      Do you realize that we are in a deep hole and having a lot of problems recovering from the Bush recession? Do you realize that businesses are sitting on huge piles of cash but refuse to hire anyone until people start spending money once more?

      Who do you think is going to create jobs since businesses won’t?

      Cutting government spending means only one thing. More people lose their jobs. Just the opposite of what we need. We’ve got to create jobs, get people employed and feeling good. And then business will decide that things are OK once more and they will then start hiring once more.

      When people go back to work they will pay taxes and we’ll pay our bills then.

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