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SEIA Statement on Proposed No More Solyndras Act’; “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” July 12, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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For Immediate Release
July 12, 2012

SEIA Statement on Proposed No More Solyndras Act

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and the Energy and Power Subcommittee held a legislative hearing on the discussion draft of the No More Solyndras Act.  Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®), issued the following statement on the discussion draft:

“The solar industry supports efforts to ensure that taxpayer dollars are protected and used wisely to increase the effectiveness of Department of Energy (“DOE”) Loan Guarantee Program. The solar industry stands ready to work with policymakers on a bipartisan basis to achieve these common sense goals and improve the loan program.

“Unfortunately, the discussion draft – as was noted on multiple occasions in the legislative hearing – would ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater.’ The loan program has been utilized on a bipartisan basis to leverage private capital to promote transportation, health care, education, housing and energy infrastructure policies.  The provision in the discussion draft that sunsets DOE’s loan program would hinder our nation’s ability to develop innovative energy infrastructure projects.  In solar alone, this program has achieved a number of notable successes. Chief among these are 11 utilityscale solar power plants in the Southwest, totaling 2,700 megawatts – enough to power 500,000 homes.

“The solar industry welcomes the opportunity to work with Congress and the Administration to improve the DOE loan program.”

The U.S. solar energy industry employs 100,000 Americans at more than 5,600 companies, mostly small businesses, across the nation in all 50 states.

About SEIA®:
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA is working to build a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. www.seia.org

Background Materials:
Facts on the DOE Loan Program: http://www.seia.org/policy/finance-tax/doe-loan-guarantee-program

Media Contacts:
Monique Hanis, 202.556.2885, mhanis@seia.org
Susan DeVico, 510.339.1527, SusanDV@aol.com

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Here is a link to the Draft “No More Solyndras Act”

http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Joint/20120712_EP_OI/BILLS-112hr-PIH-nomoresolyndras.pdf

Energy defends loan guarantees, attacks GOP for offering ‘No More Solyndras’ bill

By Ben Geman 07/12/12 08:34 AM ET from E2 Wire, The Hill’s Energy & Environment Blog

The Energy Department (DOE) is trying to counter fresh GOP legislative and political attacks against the department’s embattled loan guarantee program.

A senior DOE official will tell lawmakers Thursday that House GOP legislation called the “No More Solyndras Act” would harm the program without boosting taxpayer protections. The legislation would create new restrictions on clean energy loan guarantees.

David Frantz, the acting head of the loan programs office, says in testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee that DOE has already made a series of improvements to the program.

“This effort has included improvements to the way loan guarantees are originated and the way in which they are monitored. With these improvements in place, the department has concerns that the legislation would not result in increased taxpayer protections, but would instead hinder effective implementation of this important program,” he states in written testimony submitted for a Thursday hearing.

The loan program is under fire from Republicans over the collapse of the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, as well as the more recent bankruptcy of Abound Solar and headwinds facing other DOE-backed companies. GOP lawmakers say they represent recklessness with taxpayer dollars and the failure of the White House green energy agenda.

Top Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans floated a draft bill this week that would sunset the loan guarantee program, barring any new guarantees for applications received after the end of 2011.

The “No More Solyndras Act,” which is the subject of Thursday’s hearing, also creates new parameters for the review of current applications. More on that here.

The measure is named after the California company that went belly-up last year after winning a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009.

Obama administration officials have counterpunched amid the GOP attacks, arguing that the woes of a few companies should not obscure the success of the wider loan portfolio.

“The troubles of some segments in the solar manufacturing market should not overshadow the great work that the department’s loan programs have done to date, or the need to continue to find ways to support clean energy deployment in this country,” Frantz states.

The bill also prevents the “subordination” of taxpayer interests to private investors.

Republicans have slammed the early 2011 decision to restructure the Solyndra loan that put private investors — who were providing additional capital to the struggling firm — ahead of taxpayers for repayment if the company collapsed.

But Frantz, during the hearing, said it’s important to keep the ability to subordinate as a last-ditch tool rescue a highly distressed loan recipient.

“This tool would only be used in extreme situations,” he said.

“You would be hamstringing us and taking a very critical tool that could, in fact, save taxpayers’ money,” Frantz said of the GOP bill to bar subordination.

The loan program was first authorized in a bipartisan 2005 energy law, and expanded in the 2009 stimulus, which ultimately provided backing for Solyndra and other solar equipment manufacturing, as well as wind, solar and geothermal power-generation projects.

The overall program is authorized to support technologies including renewables, nuclear power, transmission and low-emissions fossil energy such as carbon control technologies projects for coal-fired power.

In addition to the renewables guarantees, other projects approved or conditionally approved include a preliminary commitment for an $8.3 billion guarantee to help utility giant Southern Co. build a pair of nuclear reactors in Georgia.

Loan program officials are currently “performing due diligence on several advanced fossil projects,” according to Frantz.

House Republicans floated legislation Tuesday that would sunset the Energy Department’s controversial loan guarantee program for green energy projects.

The draft bill, which Republicans call the “No More Solyndras Act,” would bar the Energy Department (DOE) from granting loan guarantees for any applications received after the end of 2011.

House GOP floats ‘No More Solyndras Act’

By Ben Geman 07/10/12 01:27 PM ET

For existing applications, the bill — which is named after the failed DOE-backed solar firm Solyndra — sets new parameters for reviewing the requests. The department currently has authority to issue $34 billion worth of loan guarantees, according to the draft bill.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), Upton’s point man on the committee’s Solyndra probe, are the sponsors of the draft bill that will be the subject of a committee hearing Thursday.

Stearns said Monday evening that he’s hoping for a floor vote before the congressional August recess. “Our ‘No More Solyndras Act’ will ensure taxpayers are no longer vulnerable to the Obama administration’s game of crony capitalism,” Stearns said in a statement Tuesday.

But the plan could run into conflict with lawmakers who say the loan program should be altered, not scrapped. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has taken a mend-it-don’t-end-it approach.

Republicans have pounced on the 2011 collapse of Solyndra, which had received a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009, as well as the more recent bankruptcy of Abound Solar and headwinds facing other DOE-backed companies, alleging they represent the failure of the White House green energy agenda.

But administration officials have pushed back against the attacks, arguing they obscure the successes of the loan guarantee program, which was first authorized in a bipartisan 2005 energy law and expanded through a stimulus law program that ultimately backed Solyndra and other companies.

In addition to sun-setting the program, the bill would set new restrictions on review of existing loan guarantee applications that are meant to correct what Republicans call deep flaws in DOE’s vetting process.

A White House-commissioned report released earlier this year also recommended improvements to the program.

The bill would require that no guarantees may be made until the Treasury Department reviews them and makes a recommendation to the Energy Department, and states that if DOE makes a guarantee that’s not consistent with Treasury’s recommendation, DOE officials must provide a report to Congress explaining why.

It also requires DOE to consult with Treasury on the restructuring of any loan guarantees, and prevents the “subordination” of taxpayer interests to private investors.

Republicans have slammed the early 2011 decision to restructure the Solyndra loan that put private investors — who were providing additional capital to the struggling firm — ahead of taxpayers for repayment after the company collapsed.

The Energy Department did not provide immediate comment.

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