Obama admin. knew was cheaper to cut off Solyndra-Republicans

WASHINGTON Thu Aug 2, 2012 11:46am EDT

WASHINGTON Aug 2 (Reuters) - The Obama administration ignored warnings from its own analysts to cut its losses on a $535 million loan to Solyndra, and instead restructured the deal, leading to bigger costs to taxpayers when the solar panel maker went bankrupt, Republican investigators said on Thursday.

In its final report on its 18-month probe into the failed loan, the Republican-led House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee said the Democratic administration rushed into the deal, then helped keep the company going despite a series of red flags and explicit warnings.

The 147-page report highlights analysis done by a financial analyst at the White House Office of Management and Budget who flagged early in January 2011 that the government would recover more of its money if it allowed the struggling company to go bankrupt instead of giving Solyndra another chance.

Instead, the Energy Department restructured the loan, which put the government behind private investors in the eventual bankruptcy.

The panel reviewed more than 300,000 pages of documents, including many internal emails that have been embarrassing for President Barack Obama, who had toured the factory and held the company up as an example of how the government could help spur renewable energy jobs.

The failure has become a political weapon for Republicans ahead of the Nov. 6 presidential and congressional elections as they seek to highlight their own energy policies, which are more favorable to the fossil fuels industry than to alternatives.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has staunchly defended decisions made on Solyndra, blaming the company's demise on falling prices for solar panels because of Chinese subsidies.

The FBI has been investigating the failed company for close to a year in tandem with the Energy Department's Inspector General, an independent watchdog. It is unknown when that review will wrap up.