It seems like the Solyndra debacle has not gotten Washington’s attention. Business Insider reports:
SolarReserve is getting a $737 million loan guarantee which was announced Wednesday by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Coincidentally, the project which is risking $737 million to power 43K homes, is located in the Majority Leader’s home state of Nevada.
Florida U.S. Representative Cliff Stearns (R) perhaps summed it best up when he said:
“The administration’s flagship project Solyndra is bankrupt and being investigated by the FBI, the promised jobs never materialized, and now the Department of Energy is preparing to rush out nearly $5 billion in loans in the final 48 hours before stimulus funds expire—that’s nearly $105 million every hour that must be finalized until the deadline.”
The Congressman is right on target here, just because the funds are authorized does not mean them MUST BE SPENT! Especially when the process seems to be flawed and mistakes have been made. This is the part where bureaucracy takes over from a representative democracy and the Legislative Branch now needs to reassert oversight!
There are so many other options that could have been exercised. The article recommends:
- Invest in research. We should be pouring dollars like this into outcome based research that will leverage one of our primary strengths—the American university research. Create a better solar mousetrap—instead of just trying to be the “cool hip kid in the solar green club”.
- Upgrading our country’s nearly 100 year old electricity infrastructure (smart grid) or building new natural gas or coal facilities that would provide 7 times the amount of power for the same money. While at the same time creating significantly more long term permanent jobs and short term construction jobs.
- Take that money and break it up into 737 $1 million loans to small businesses (who actually employ the majority of Americans) with incentives to hire the unemployed. This would build what we need badly—JOBS . The entire SolarReserve project is slated to result in only 52 permanent jobs and 900 temporary construction jobs. Couldn’t these massive resources be better suited to growing and (Ummm...cash flowing) small businesses? As hard as it is for Successful businesses to get a loan these days WHY ARE WE GIVING LOANS TO NON-COMPETITIVE (government subsidized ) BUSINESSES THAT BUILD FEW JOBS??
- There is always the case to be made that in the long term we could use this money to pay down the debt or just not spend it in the first place.