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With the increasing federal deficit, it’s time to start examining where taxpayer money is going and how it is being spent. Republicans have targeted the Department of Energy’s questionable loan programs for renewable energy companies with the ‘No More Solyndras’ Act. The DOE program began at the end of the Bush administration, but under the Obama stimulus it exploded, with $47 billion more in loan granting authority. The DOE loan guarantee problem lies in the fact that there has been little to no oversight and monitoring of the loans and how the money was being spent. Even worse, there is no definitive reason as to why certain companies were chosen for the loans in the first place.
The ‘No More Solyndra Act’, introduced in the U.S House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee by committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) would disband the loan program, stop the Energy Department from issuing any loan guarantees for applications received after 2011, and set new guidelines and standards for applications and loans already awarded. Under the ‘No More Solyndras Act’, all loan guarantees under DOE consideration must be reviewed by the Treasury Department before awarded. This draft bill also states that if the Department of Energy chooses to make a guarantee against the Treasury’s decision, they must submit a report to Congress detailing their decision. ‘No More Solyndras’ also mandates that the DOE consult with the Treasury Department if any loan guarantees require restructuring. The draft bill also calls for the prevention of “subordination” of the taxpayers to private investors. This last point is in reference to the fact that in past cases the Department of Energy put private investors ahead of taxpayers in terms of being repaid in the case of a bankruptcy. This Act also calls for an economic analysis to be run on each individual company to ensure their project is viable. Investigations by various organizations and agencies have found that many loan guarantees were pushed through even after the DOE suggested pulling the companies funding.
It is not that renewable energy doesn’t deserve a chance to compete with natural gas and other forms of energy, but it does need to compete fairly. Right now we are throwing billions of dollars in loans, grants, and subsidies at an industry that cannot effectively compete on its won't. Even with DOE throwing billions of taxpayer funds into alternative energy companies their profitability and competitiveness is falling. Until the technology is there to effectively, efficiently, and affordably produce renewable energy, we need to stop wasting the taxes paid by hard working Americans that result in jobless, bankrupt companies.
A draft of the ‘No More Solyndras’ Act passed the Energy and Power House subcommittee yesterday and is expected to come to a full committee hearing and vote soon. If passed it will receive a bill number and be introduced to the House of Representatives, where Stearns (R-Fla.) hopes a vote will occur before the August recess.