Oct 13, 2011 4:23 PM GMT
With the Solyndra scandal still swirling, the Obama administration is under pressure to reveal the financial condition of the solar companies that received $4.75 billion in similar federal loan guarantees on the last day of the program.
Republican lawmakers on two House committees are seeking details about the loans given to First Solar, SunPower Corp. and ProLogis. Of those three companies, troubling financial revelations have emerged about SunPower, which sponsored a solar project that received a $1.2 billion loan, more than twice the money approved for Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy last month after receiving a $528 million loan.
The Energy Department says on its website that the $1.2 billion loan to help build the California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo County, a project that will help create 15 permanent jobs, which adds up to the equivalent of $80 million in taxpayer money for each job.
But the Energy Department stands by the project.
“This project underwent many months of rigorous technical, financial and legal due diligence by career employees in the DOE loan program,” Energy spokesman Damien LaVera said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “It was approved for one reason only: because it meets all the requirements of the program – helping America win the clean energy race and create entire new industries for American workers.”
In April, the Energy Department gave the project sponsored by SunPower a conditional loan guarantee, even though the company was receiving financing in the capital markets. Shortly after the conditional guarantee, French energy giant Total bought a majority ownership in SunPower and extended a $1 billion credit line to the company.
But SunPower posted $150 million in losses during the first half of this year and its debt is nearly 80 percent of its market value. The company is also facing class action lawsuits for misstating its earnings.
SunPower sold the solar ranch that received the federal loan to NRG, an energy company based in New Jersey. But SunPower is still developing the project and stands to profit if it succeeds.
The Energy Department told FoxNews.com that the ranch was sold to NRG “as a means for increasing equity in the project.”
“DOE was aware of that arrangement, which was outlined in the term sheet negotiated before the conditional commitment was signed,” the official said.