As expected, Solyndra’s filing for bankruptcy has sparked political arguments and caused Republicans to sling anti-green and anti-Obama allegations focused around the company receiving $535 million in federally-backed stimulus act loans. Critics are crying foul, saying that spending government money on green technologies is a waste and blaming Obama for rushing through the loan guarantee. But, just like any controversial situation, much of what is being said is exaggerated or just not true at all. For starters, the Solyndra loan process was launched by President Bush, who pushed for a loan guarantee – before Obama even took office.
Solyndra is now under investigation by the federal government as they try to determine what exactly went wrong. Many are accusing the White House of croynism (giving money or favoring to political supporters and allies), claiming that Solyndra investors were Obama donors and Democrat supporters. But in fact, Solyndra’s investors came from a wide range of political backgrounds, with one major player being Madrone Capital Partners, run by Walmart’s Walton family, known for being big GOP donors.
As for the claim that Solyndra’s bankruptcy proves investing in green energy is futile, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Energy Department loan guarantee program was created in 2005 with bipartisan support, and since then, it has authorized more than $38 billion for 40 projects around the country. Solyndra represents just 1.3 percent of that, and more importantly, it is the only company that’s had issues. Plus, only a small fraction of the loans go to renewable energy. The bulk have gone to nuclear plants.
But this doesn’t mean that solar power isn’t ready for the mainstream yet, which is another claim that critics have made. On the contrary, plenty of solar companies — including SunPower and First Solar, which received Energy Dept. loans — are seeing great success and innovation that have allowed for solar panels to become cheaper and more readily available.
While there’s no doubt that something clearly went wrong with Solyndra, we can safely say that the fault doesn’t lie entirely on Obama and, furthermore, solar power’s viability had little to nothing to do with it. No doubt, we’ll see the topic rehashed again and again as the investigation continues and the presidential campaigns pick up speed. For more information about the Solyndra situation, Think Progress has a detailed timeline of the Solyndra loan guarantee, and Brad Plumer at the Washington Post outlines a few more myths about the backlash.