The Obama administration has for months now been grappling with political attacks targeting its efforts to finance green energy start-ups. The financial meltdown of Solyndra has been the focus of a Republican-led Congressional investigation and millions of dollars in attack ads by conservative groups.
The administration has defended its efforts, asserting that there has never been any evidence that political influence factored into decisions about which companies would receive Energy Department loans. Republicans cited political connections between the loan recipients and the Obama administration as the fuel for their suspicions. For instance, a top Obama fundraiser was also a chief private backer of Solyndra, the solar panel company. Similarly, a major investor in Fisker is a venture capital firm that lists former Vice President Al Gore as a partner.
Energy officials Monday touted a deal to recover money loaned to a less well-known firm, Beacon Power, which currently operates a 20-megawatt flywheel storage plant in Stephentown, N.Y. The company was the second recipient of Energy Department funds to file for bankruptcy. Under a deal announced today, taxpayers are expected to recover $28.7 million of the $39.5 million in federal funds that had been loaned to the struggling firm.