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Report: Federally-backed Abound Solar under criminal probe

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

Local media in Colorado are reporting that bankrupt Abound Solar, one of the administration’s many federal green energy funding recipients, is now under investigation by the local Weld County, Colo., district attorney.

The local ABC affiliate reports:

Sources tell 7NEWS that the company’s finances are under scrutiny.

7NEWS obtained internal documents from 2012 that show orders for tens of thousands of replacement solar panels. The orders cite different reasons for the replacements including, “low performance,” “under performance” and “catastrophic failures.”

The orders are for replacements requested after the Department of Energy stopped stimulus money payments to Abound.

“These are solar panels we are now seeing reports that said they worked as long as you didn’t put them in the sun,” said Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. “Now the question is did the (Department of Energy) — did they know something that the rest of should have known? Did Abound not tell the DOE something? These are questions that need to be answered.”

Gardner represents northern Colorado in Congress. He confirmed with 7NEWS that he will be sending a letter to the Department of Energy seeking records and information about what it knew while providing money to Abound. Gardner sits on the Energy and Commerce committee which oversees the Department of Energy loan program that provided money to Abound.

“We need to know, did the Department of Energy — did they close on the loan when they knew there were technical problems with the product?” said Gardner.

The company had received tax breaks from Weld County, which it later suspended for apparent failing to meet certain job-creation criteria. The county is also seeking to collect $1 million in unpaid property taxes.

The Daily Caller reported last week that Abound Solar’s panels were so faulty they sometimes burned up when put in operation. Internal company critics of the panels were reportedly told to be quiet.

Abound Solar had drawn about $70 million of a $400 million Energy Department loan guarantee before declaring bankruptcy this summer, leaving taxpayers potentially on the hook for the entire sum. The company was well-connected to a top Democratic fundraiser.

Ironically, the company went bankrupt on the eve of the second anniversary of President Obama praising the company as proof that his green energy initiative was working. “Already, I’ve seen the payoff from these investments,” he said during one of the administration’s 2010 “Recovery Summer” events.

 

 

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Sean Higgins

Senior Writer
The Washington Examiner