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House oversight panel considers subpoena in Solyndra loan guarantee investigation

June 24, 2011 |  5:36 pm

Solyndra Solyndra Inc., the Fremont, Calif., solar company known for its cylindrical panels, is causing a tussle in the nation's capital.

A House panel is investigating why the Obama administration handed a $535-million loan guarantee to the company, a controversial move now that Solyndra has closed a factory and canceled plans to go public.

The oversight and investigations panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said it wants documentation about the decision to give Solyndra aid.

The company landed the first loan guarantee from the Department of Energy in 2009 through a multibillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded program. Solyndra used the boost to build a new factory, but also shut down an older facility and laid off workers. Then last summer the company canceled its plans for a $300-million IPO.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who chairs the oversight panel, believes the hiccups could mean that the government gave a loan guarantee to a company that wasn’t qualified. He said the panel has hounded the White House Office of Management and Budget for months for more details into the decision process.

But after Jeffrey D. Zients, deputy director of the budget office, failed to appear Friday for a hearing on the issue, Stearns said the no-show was because of White House stonewalling.

The budget office blamed a scheduling conflict resulting from the panel’s last-minute request. It said its representatives are eager to help and have already turned over extensive documentation in addition to more than 20,000 pages from the Department of Energy.

Stearns said the panel is now considering a subpoena to force the White House to turn over communications that may suggest that staffers had reservations about Solyndra.

RELATED:

House members probe $535-million loan guarantee by Obama Energy Dept. for Solyndra solar plant

Solar company Solyndra to close factory, cut jobs

-- Tiffany Hsu [follow]

Photo: Solyndra panels on Quest Field Events Center in Seattle. Credit: Greg Gilbert / Seattle Times

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