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Email includes energy department official's midnight confessions on picking 'winners and losers'

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It's 3:30 in the morning and you can't sleep, so what do you do if you are a senior government executive working on President Obama's clean energy loan program at the U.S. Department of Energy? If your name is Jim McCrea, it's apparently Midnight Confessions time.

The date is Nov. 18, 2009. For whatever reason, McCrea was answering email, including one he had received earlier in the day from a DOE colleague.

In his somewhat rambling response, a couple of McCrea's sentences stand out when viewed in the context of the Solyndra and Abound Solar debacles.

Those two companies stand atop the growing list of clean energy firms that got billions of tax dollars from DOE and have since either gone bellyup or are approaching such status.

Take this one, for example: "l really cannot fathom how one figures out whether a loan to a PV manufacturer is being made to one that will survive. Everything about the business argues for the failure of many lf not most of the suppliers."

The "PV" reference is to photovoltaic solar panel manufacturing technology. Solyndra and Abound Solar both used PV technology.

Then McCrea offers this further confession:

"lf, as a jobs creation mechanism, there is an incentive for PV solar installations, I do think demand could soar and create large numbers ofjobs simultaneously.

"However, lf I were going to invest on that thesis, l might look at inverter manufacturers like Xantrex rather than bet on the PV solar anufacturers. All in all in the solar field, l think it is extremely easy to pick losers and l really do not know how to pick winners."

There are currently multiple congressional investigations being conducted concerning the DOE's clean energy program and how it decided which firms to award with loans, grants and guarantees. McCrea's email suggest the answers being sought by the Hill aren't all that complicated.

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