HolyCoast: "Do We Even Need This Factory?"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Do We Even Need This Factory?"

Good question, but one that wasn't asked by any of the right people:
Former employees of Solyndra, the shuttered solar company that exhausted half a billion dollars of taxpayer money, said they saw questionable spending by management almost as soon as a federal agency approved a $535 million government-backed loan for the startup.

A new factory built with public money boasted a gleaming conference room with glass walls that, with the flip of a switch, turned smoky-gray to conceal the room’s occupants. Hastily purchased state-of-the-art equipment ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar, still in its plastic bubble wrap, employees said.

As the $344 million factory went up just down the road from the company’s leased plant in Fremont, Calif., workers watched as pallets of unsold solar panels stacked up in storage. Many wondered: Did we even need this new factory?

“After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right,” said former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn. “Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy.”

Solyndra’s ability to secure federal backing also made the company eager for more assistance, interviews and records show. Company executives ramped up their Washington lobbying efforts, hiring a former Senate aide to work with the White House and the Energy Department. Within a week of getting a loan guarantee commitment from the Energy Department, Solyndra applied for another guarantee worth $400 million. It never won final approval.
If this had happened during the Bush Administration the press attention and attention from congressional Dems would have been relentless. Today, pretty much nothing. And now the execs are going to plead the Fifth hoping to make this all go away. If the media gets their way, we won't hear about this again once the congressional testimony is over.

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