Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

The Solyndra Mess

Companies go bankrupt all the time — especially when the world is still in the grips of one of the worst financial downturns in history. But when the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra announced that it was going under in September — costing more than 1,000 workers their jobs — it became front-page news. That's because Solyndra had received more than $500 million in government loan guarantees, one of dozens of renewable-energy start-ups that benefit from federal stimulus spending. Did Solyndra's failure mean that the money was wasted?

Not exactly. The loan-guarantee program was going to be risky — support for insurgent technologies always is. And recent reviews of the Department of Energy's loan programs have shown little waste. But Republicans seized on Solyndra as evidence that renewable energy wasn't worth government support — and they've kept the issue in the headlines ever since. Expect to hear about the "Solyndra scandal" a lot between now and November.