Republican lawmakers are stepping up their investigation into alternative energy loan programs in the wake of the collapse of the Solyndra solar company, the first company to receive such funding.
With only days to go before the Department of Energy faces deadlines to finalize $8.9 billion in loans for 14 renewable energy projects, Congressional investigators asked for detailed financial information on the deals and the due diligence done by the government.
“We are concerned that another rush to meet stimulus deadlines will result in DOE closing these deals before they are ready,” said Fred Upton, Cliff Stearns and Ed Whitfield of the House Energy and Commerce committee, in a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday.
The loan guarantee program was created in a 2005 energy law, and its funding was bolstered by the federal economic stimulus package.
The Energy Department has closed on a total of 18 guarantees, but had made conditional commitments for 14 other loans for solar, wind, biofuel and geothermal projects around the country.
Solyndra was the first company to receive funding, securing $535 million in guarantees in 2009. The company filed for bankruptcy last month, and is the focus of investigations by the FBI and by Republicans in Congress.
Solyndra executives had agreed to testify to Congress about the loans at a hearing slated for Friday.
But on Tuesday, lawyers for Chief Executive Brian Harrison and Chief Financial Officer W.G Stover advised they would invoke their fifth amendment rights and would not answer questions, according to letters obtained by Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Andrea Evans)