By Andrew Restuccia - 11/16/11 10:51 PM EST
Energy Secretary Steven Chu will take full responsibility for approving a $535 million loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar firm Solyndra during a House hearing Thursday, insisting that politics did not influence the decision.
“As the Secretary of Energy, the final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind. I want to be clear: over the course of Solyndra’s loan guarantee, I did not make any decision based on political considerations,” Chu will say, according to written testimony made public by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday evening.
Chu will testify Thursday before the committee’s investigative panel, which has launched a months-long investigation into Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy in September shortly after laying off 1,100 workers.
The GOP has pummeled the Obama administration over the Solyndra in recent weeks, questioning the Energy Department’s investments in renewable energy projects and alleging that politics played a role in the decision to grant the loan guarantee to the California solar company.
But Chu, in his testimony Thursday, will attempt to undercut those Republican claims by arguing that Solyndra “went through more than two years of rigorous technical, financial and legal due diligence, spanning two Administrations, before a loan guarantee was issued.”
Chu will also defend the his decision to restructure the loan in February.
“Immediate bankruptcy meant a 100 percent certainty of default, with an unfinished plant as collateral,” he will say. “Restructuring improved the chance of recovering taxpayer money by giving the company a fighting chance at success, with a completed plant as collateral.”
The restructuring agreement put private investors who put money into the project ahead of taxpayers to be repaid in the event that Solyndra went under, a move that Republicans say was illegal.
More broadly, Chu will sound a familiar alarm about the dangers of not investing in clean energy.
“When it comes to the clean energy race, America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat. I believe we can and must compete.”
Excerpts of Chu's testimony were released by the Energy Department earlier Wednesday.