Solyndra Funds Mostly Lost to Taxpayers, Chu Tells Lawmakers
November 17, 2011, 4:32 PM EST
By Jim Snyder and Brian Wingfield
(Updates with comment from Representative Scalise in 11th paragraph.)
Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu told lawmakers he was responsible for the $535 million U.S. loan guarantee to Solyndra LLC and said he doubted much of the money would be recovered after the company’s bankruptcy.
Chu, who once predicted the California maker of solar panels would be a “shared success story,” testified today before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee investigating the Energy Department’s reasons for backing Solyndra and providing refinancing as it slid toward collapse.
“Was there incompetence?” Chu said. “Was there any influence of a political nature? So I would say no. It is extremely unfortunate what has happened to Solyndra.”
Asked how much of the taxpayer funding invested in Solyndra may be recovered, Chu, 63, said, “I’m anticipating not very much.”
“Red flags” about the company’s prospects were “either ignored or minimized by senior officials” in the Obama administration, Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the Energy Committee, told Chu.
Representative Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, asked who would be paid first as money is recouped from the sale of Solyndra’s assets.
“Does the taxpayer have first dibs?” Scalise said.
“After restructuring? No,” Chu responded.