You Won’t Hear This Story on Fox News: US Government Expects to Earn at Least $5 Billion from Loan Program That Funded Solyndra

solyndralogo_202x411By Elaine Magliaro


Justin Doom of Bloomberg Businessweek reported on Wednesday that the US government “expects to earn $5 billion to $6 billion from the renewable-energy loan program that US-DeptOfEnergy-Seal.svgfunded flops including Solyndra LLC, supporting President Barack Obama’s decision to back low-carbon technologies.” Doom said that the Department of Energy had already “disbursed about half of $32.4 billion allocated to spur innovation…” He added that the expected return on the government’s investment would be detailed in a report that was expected to be released some time this week.


The results contradict the widely held view that the U.S. has wasted taxpayer money funding failures including Solyndra, which closed its doors in 2011 after receiving $528 million in government backing. That adds to Obama’s credibility as he seeks to make climate change a bigger priority after announcing a historic emissions deal with China.

Michael Morosi, an analyst at Jetstream Capital LLC, which invests in renewable energy, said that the “$5 billion return to taxpayers exceeds the returns from many venture capital and private equity investments in clean energy.” Morosi added, “People make a big deal about Solyndra and everything, but there’s a lot of VC capital that got torched right alongside the DOE capita. A positive return over 20 years in cleantech? That’s not a bad outcome.”

According to Jeff Spross (ThinkProgress), the loan program, which is run out of the Department of Energy (DOE), “covers a large umbrella of investments to encourage green energy and low-carbon technologies.”


The program has the authority to spend as much as $40 billion, and has allocated $32.4 billion of that to a portfolio with dozens of specific projects. Half of the $32.4 billion has already been paid out, in loans that average a 22-year lifecycle. The Energy Department expects the full $5 to $6 billion return to come in over that total time period. But $3.5 billion of the principal for those loans has already been paid back by the various companies that received them, and the government has already garnered over $810 million in interest payments. The portfolio’s losses only amount to $780 million so far, and they aren’t expected to rise above $2 billion once everything is said and done — a fraction of the $10 billion in losses the government anticipated when it originally designed the program.

Spross noted that this “stands in stark contrast to the image critics painted of the program.” He said that the collapse of Solyndra in 2011 after it had received $528 million from the program set off “a political feeding frenzy” that embarrassed the White House.

Jeff Brady of NPR said that when Congress created the loan program “under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, it was never designed to be a moneymaker.” He added that Congress expected “there would be losses and set aside $10 billion to cover them.” Yet, he said, when Solyndra collapsed, Republicans on Capitol Hill criticized the Obama administration. Brady said that “Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., called the Solyndra case ‘disgusting,’ and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, labeled it ‘a colossal failure.’ The conservative group Americans for Prosperity produced a television ad accusing President Obama of paying back campaign contributors.”

Brady said that there was even an FBI raid “on Solyndra’s headquarters and an investigation…” According to Brady, there have been no prosecutions to date. Brady added, “Now that the loan program is turning a profit, those critics are silent. They either declined or ignored NPR’s requests for comment.” Brady said that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz “wants to change people’s perception of his agency’s loan program.” Moniz said, “It literally kick-started the whole utility-scale photovoltaic industry.”


The program funded the first of five huge solar projects in the West. Moniz says before that, developers couldn’t get money from private lenders. But now, with proven business models, they can.

Max Ehrenfreund (Washington Post) said that in any case, when the report is released, it won’t end the debate over Solyndra. He said that’s because “Conservatives are likely to argue that even if the program is earning money for taxpayers, the government should have lowered taxes and let citizens invest the money themselves.” He added, “Some conservatives might even suggest a tax on carbon dioxide would be a more straightforward way of encouraging research into clean energy.”


In short, you can still take issue with the whole idea of the loans if you like, but you can’t claim that the program has been mismanaged or call it a failure or a boondoggle anymore.



U.S. Expects $5 Billion From Program That Funded Solyndra (Bloomberg)

‘Scandalous’ Solyndra Program Actually Earned Taxpayers A $5 Billion Profit (ThinkProgress)

After Solyndra Loss, U.S. Energy Loan Program Turning A Profit (NPR)

Remember Solyndra? Those loans are making money (Washington Post)


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21 Responses to You Won’t Hear This Story on Fox News: US Government Expects to Earn at Least $5 Billion from Loan Program That Funded Solyndra

  1. Great catch, Elaine.

  2. randyjet says:

    You won’t see this on RIL either or among Prof Turley’s quotes.

  3. swarthmoremom says:

    Yep, I remember when “Solyndra” was “Benghazi”.

  4. blouise says:

    By this time next year we’ll be hearing all about how this Republican controlled Congress lowered gas prices and earned billions of dollars for the government from solar power development. And improved health-care for women and children . And got OBL. And saved American Auto. And rescued the World from financial ruin.

  5. “And rescued the World from financial ruin.”

    There is a distinct difference between “rescued from” and “merely delayed”.

    Just sayin’.

  6. blouise says:


    Now you’re just trying to be honest and using that honesty as shield against my reign (power) of hyperbolic, political free speech. You have to start thinking like a Conservative which means ignoring all traffic signs and driving your funicular in the bike lane.

  7. Carterbo says:

    My nomination for winner of the internet today goes to randyjet.

  8. What Randy said. And agree with Carterbo. Things have changed at RIL, and not for the better.

  9. bron98 says:

    why is fscism ok when it has to do with green energy?

  10. bron98 says:

    If green energy worked, I imagine Exxon, Chevron and others would be doing research to develop a cheaper source of energy so they can make a bigger profit.

    When the private sector has the technology, they will produce clean, inexpensive energy.

  11. Bron,

    You again show a remarkable lack of understanding about how fundamental science gets done in the modern world and the role government plays in that research.

  12. And again . . .

    “If green energy worked, I imagine Exxon, Chevron and others would be doing research to develop a cheaper source of energy so they can make a bigger profit.”

    No, they wouldn’t, because it would take from their profits to pay for the research and if oil companies have proven anything over time it is that short term greed is their number one priority.

    “When the private sector has the technology, they will produce clean, inexpensive energy.”

    Not until they are forced to by their greed and so long as oil is relatively cheap to produce they won’t.

  13. Carterbo,

    You are always welcome here as are all the other readers of RIL that Jon is busy letting his pet propaganda trolls abuse without recourse and engage in ad hominem without substance.

  14. eniobob says:

    Speaking of loan programs and something you won’t hear on “faux” or many other outlets.Should be a Christmas story.

    “A Morris County homeowner who has been in default on his $520,000 mortgage loan since 2007 has won an unusual victory in bankruptcy court in Newark: a free house.”

  15. Elaine M. says:

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  17. eniobob says:

    Solyndra & Ebola they do have something in common,when it comes to talking points being turned on it’s head.

  18. swarthmoremom says:

    “The Borowitz Report: McConnell blasted Obama’s recent climate-change deal with the Chinese, saying that it violated “the human rights of carbon.” new yorker

  19. blouise17 says:

    Mitch is just pissed that all his Senate buddies are looking for a new coke supplier. He’s lashing out.

  20. Carterbo says:

    Thanks Gene. I was a daily follower on RIL’s site but I noticed a change right about the time of the Zimmerman verdict and decided to go elsewhere. I enjoy this sites competence and the quality authors. Thanks again.

  21. You’re most welcome, Carterbo. We’re going to keep this wagontrain a rollin’ till the wheels come off. Spread the word. 😀

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