The DOE said the program, which has financed 28 projects with $16 billion in loan guarantees, should create about 17,000 jobs. But Stearns contended that the DOE has rushed programs to political allies in the green-energy community.
“We asked them to hold up any more loan guarantees so that they could be looked at more carefully, so we don’t have any more Solyndras,” Stearns said.
The DOE and administration have insisted that the green-energy loans are essential for keeping pace with competing countries such as China, where solar panel production and other green-energy programs are heavily subsidized by the government.
“Some say this is a race America can’t win,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a speech Saturday. “They’re ready to wave the white flag and declare defeat. … It’s not enough for our country to invent clean-energy technologies — we have to make them and use them too. Invented in America, made in America, and sold around the world — that’s how we’ll create good jobs and lead in the 21st century.”
But Stearns said that he doesn’t believe in subsidies, and doesn’t like putting taxpayer dollars on the line for emerging industries that could lose money. The congressman said that solar panels were a particularly tough sell: Considering the heavy investment for the Chinese, Stearns thinks it makes more sense to invest in research for a technology area where the United States still has a chance of winning.
“We can’t compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines,” Stearns said.