SAN FRANCISCO—The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed a search warrant Thursday (Sept. 8) at the Fremont, Calif., headquarters of Solyndra Inc., the solar cell manufacturer that announced last week it was shutting down operations and filing for bankruptcy, according to reports.
FBI agents, joined by officials from the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Office of the Inspector General, began executing the search warrant at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News. An FBI spokesperson declined to divulge the reason for the search, according to the report.
The bankruptcy filing of Solyndra raised eyebrows, partly because the firm had received a $535 million federal loan guarantee to build manufacturing facilities in Fremont.
In a statement issued Thursday, Cliff Stearns, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, said a six-month investigation into the Solyndra loan guarantee had been expanded last week. The committee is now seeking additional documents and information from the White House regarding Solyndra, according to the statement.
Stearns is pushing for a halt of loan guarantees by the Dept. of Energy. Of the $18 billion in loan guarantees for which U.S. government stimulus funding is available, just over $8 billion worth of guarantees have been finalized, according to the statement. The Dept. of Energy has conditionally committed to an additional 16 projects totaling over $10 billion in guaranteed loans, but the guarantees have yet to be finalized, according to the statement. The deadline to finalize loan guarantees under the stimulus plan is Sept. 30.
The Oversight and Investigations subcommittee plans a hearing on the Solyndra loan guarantee next week.
According to the Mercury News report, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in Delaware Tuesday and said it plans to seek a buyer. The report referenced an earlier story by the Bloomberg news service, which said that Solyndra may have two bidders for its Fremont plant but that the Dept. of Energy is concerned that a buyer might buy the firm's equipment and move it out of the U.S.
According to Stearns, the Dept. of Energy was forced to restructure Solyndra's loan guarantee in February because the company was having financial problems.
Well, let's see, perhaps that's not a very tough analysis...let me take a stab:
- Catchy name based on unique tube design.
- Good political connections to help get funding.
- product cost is higher than competitors due to goofy tube design
- product efficiency inherently low due to goofy tube design
- manufacturing in one of the highest cost and highest regulation regions in the world. Pretty rare that any major companies are building plants in CA these days, and there are presumably good reasons for that.
- manufacturing a product who's sales are driven only by govt regulation as opposed to value to customers (Germany, not exactly known for its bright sun, is ~50% of the market) creates large demand risks.
Lower cost chinese competition exposed a bad business plan. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how bad the plan was. It does take a politician to throw half a billion taxpayer dollars at it.
Very true. A place I worked for came under a raid and they dragged our CFO out and put him in jail for a few years. He was charged with some sort of fraud from a previous employer. It freaked everyone out, but then ended quietly and we all returned to normal work in just a few days – with an open req. for a new CFO. . .
We should analyze why Solyndra failed & learn from it. This is something that impact Fremont, Silicon Valley & California as a whole.
We are at risk to fall behind China in solar industry. Let's unite & help America.
1000 direct employees, but in order to comply with terms of Obama's green loan guarantees, they needed to comply with the Davis-Bacon Act. This requires highest-cost union labor for all construction. That beautiful building in Fremont wasn't cheap, and I'm sure a high percentage of costs went to construction labor.
How do you leave the politics out of this? This was a highly political company funded by the government to support a highly political initiative. If it weren't for politics, unlikely Solyndra would be an issue.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.