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.
@iniewski I think that the switty1 comment is subjectively correct. "The bulk of the loss is private" simply can be looked at as the private LOSS is greater than the business loss as a percentage. An individual losing $100 is a greater percentage of their net worth than the same or even twice the amount to a business. So, in essence, the private sector, already severely wounded and almost always the ones to shoulder the weight of supporting these schemes, ventures, etc. are rarely ever asked directly if we wish to support these ventures. If there were a nation-wide vote to approve such things(use taxes for or increase them because of) I would venture to guess that not much would get passed, but at least it would be a decision made for the people, by the people. Just imho.
You're right. It's all about the Tea Party and haters. If it weren't for them, everything would be unicorns and rainbows. Now let's all get behind a man who’s only hope is to spend $1B to smear his opponent.
Also, IMHO the US Gov't should never be allowed to bail out failing companies with our money. There is a reason those companies are failing and it isn't the economy, rather the economy is failing because of the poor financial decisions being made by those controlling the company.
Could be that Solyndra had no intention of building anything permanent but had, in fact, intended to use the loan to build equity prior to selling the company off shore for a profit.
This is one of the reasons the US Gov't should NOT be handling this sort of thing. They do not look any deeper than "I want".
Completely agree with you.
Unlike Germany or France, in English speaking countries Scientists and Engineers are treated like dirt, unless they luck out at IPO.
Professionl societies like IEEE etc. are mute spectators or at worst cheer leaders of outsourcing.
Scientists and Engineers need a stronger voice and role in policy-making.
For any new technology to work, it should b better, cheaper, faster, nicer,..than the existing one. Solar PV fails in general in that respect since it still is costlier (even if is made in China or with Govt. Subsidies..) than fossil fuels based energy. OK, we want to be green, so we want to pay a bit higher to save the world. If we agree to that, then the nexrt, what is the best technology - could be solar, Wind,… Let us look at the best in each..say PV. Both a-Si Thin Film and Solyndra tech. are based on assumption that polySi price will hit the roof and so they will become cheaper. This is a faulty assumption; you cannot base a new idea based on spot prices of something. New idea should be based on something better than just the cost; NO ONE asked the question what if the poly-Si price drops? That is the simple due diligence. AMAT missed it - there no one was daring to ask that question to Mike Splinter or Mark Pinto, for fear of getting fired. Eventually AMAT failed too in thin-film a-Si Solar and had to exit the business. Since AMAT had so much cash and was doing well in silicon business, they could absorb that failure. Solydra also failed in the same due-diligence question. Government did not ask the question either - remember Steven Chu is a scientist and NOT a business man. He probably has little idea on running a profitable business.
Moral of the Story - do your due diligence first - always ask the "what if" question. Make Market Requirements Specifications (MRS). Get opinions on MRS from a varied audience (current employees, external folks, even some wall street gurus). Challenge the assumptions. Make business cases under varying scenarios - then take action. This is the scientific way. Solyndra and AMAT attempts in solar are the standing results of NOT doing any of these..
There were no business case in Solyndra, and it should have been caught at the beginning.
The technology was too expensive to be competitive.
The efficiency data was not published anywhere, any technical information was hidden.
Their SEC filing during their failed IPO attempt had shown that they had lost $2 for every $1 in revenues.
All of this could have been caught by a competent engineer doing proper due diligence.
VCs did not do it, but it is their own (and their investor's) problem. I have no concerns about it.
Our government did not do it, and it is was their responcibility to do. I am very much concerned about it.
I think it is worth repeating that our government, driven by political agenda of Obama, had failed in their duties to protect our money. They had given away 1/2 of billion dollars to company that had no business getting them.
Do you know how hard is it to get some stinking $100K for SBIR project from our government? And here they are, just giving away this much money to something that was obvious garbage from the beginning!
Criticism of Obama is entirely justified.
PV Solar is not yet cost competitive on a pure technical basis,. So there is a lot of hanky panky in all the claims & accounting, especially to address folks who cannot see beyond next quarter's returns. Same can be said for the current world - wide price leader ( but located in my town in the US ) that beats any xtalline Si panel from Chinese sweat shops in terms of installed $ / kwh.
Things are very different in Germany where PV Solar keeps expanding using European products at Euro prices, because to their credit the Germans have never followed the Anglo - US model of exploitation capitalism. Deutsche Bahn ( German Rwys ) has just committed that by '20 they will get 50 % of their electricity to run trains from Renewable sources.
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.