Energy Department rejects GOP claims about solar loan project

LaVera took aim at Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who have spent a year investigating the $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, the California solar firm that filed for bankruptcy last year.

The investigation, which has uncovered more than 185,000 pages of internal government documents related to Solyndra, has not found evidence to back up GOP allegations that the administration issued the loan guarantee for political reasons.

“As has consistently been the case in course of this committee’s year-long political investigation, critics of our effort to support innovative, job-creating clean energy projects will say anything to distort the record," LaVera said.

Earlier Friday, committee Republicans released a series of excerpted documents that they say show that the Energy secretary championed the Prologis loan guarantee in hopes of improving Solyndra’s increasingly dire financial situation.

Solyndra, which was facing financing troubles, was slated to provide panels for the first stage of the project, known as Project Photon. Project Photon made up about 20 megawatts of Prologis's 750-megawatt rooftop solar project vying for a loan guarantee. By the time the Energy Department finalized the loan guarantee, Solyndra was no longer a supplier for the project.

Republicans sent a letter to Chu Friday outlining their concerns and asking for all communications related to the Prologis loan guarantee.

The letter cites a June 17, 2011, email from a Solyndra employee who was relaying what he had been told by an investment banker working on the Project Amp loan guarantee negotiations. The letter appears to suggest that Chu personally advocated for the Prologis loan guarantee.

“[O]n three occasions this week he thought that the [Project Amp] deal was dead, but Secretary Chu personally pulled it off. Chu shared with the team that this deal went to higher levels in the Obama Administration to gain approval than any other transaction in the Loan Guarantee Program, and that he personally committed to seeing it through to a successful conclusion,” the email said.

Read more about Republicans’ concerns here.