Solyndra, the California solar industry giant that declared bankruptcy this month, never was a financially feasible proposition. According to published reports, the firm had lost hundreds of millions of dollars before September 2009, when a ray of hope in the form of President Barack Obama broke through the gloom.
It was that month that the Obama administration approved massive taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for Solyndra. In just two years, the company burned through $528 million in guarantees before filing for bankruptcy and leaving the government on the hook.
As has been reported, Obama used Solyndra frequently as a talking point and photo-op in his "green jobs" campaign. Solar energy was the coming thing, the president insisted - though he and his advisers had to have known better.
Solyndra was not the first major solar energy company to go belly-up. Just last month, Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar Inc. also filed for bankruptcy, listing about $450 million in debts. It had benefitted from federal aid as well as $58 million in state subsidies.
It has been suggested Obama's dedication to Solyndra had as much to do with politics as "green jobs." The administration's loan guarantees were structured so that, should the company fail, private investors including a major fundraiser for Obama got precedence over the government in seeking repayment of investments. And it also has been reported Energy Department officials' concerns about Solyndra were dismissed by the White House.
Clearly, Congress should insist on a thorough investigation of what happened at Solyndra.