| WASHINGTON, April 17
WASHINGTON, April 17 The U.S. Department of
Energy displayed a "lack of guidance" in how it dealt with
millions of dollars in loan guarantees to now-bankrupt Abound
Solar Manufacturing, the agency's internal watchdog said in a
report on Thursday.
The DOE in recent years has tried to help commercialize the
production of solar equipment such as panels and photovoltaic
modules with a series of loan guarantees.
The program was savaged by Republican lawmakers after the
high-profile bankruptcy of California-based solar manufacturer
Solyndra in 2011. The latest audit of loan guarantees to Abound
could re-open those wounds.
In a 32-page report, the DOE's Inspector General reviewed
the case of Colorado-based Abound, which filed for bankruptcy
protection in June 2012 and laid off more than 100 employees,
after receiving about $70 million of a $400 million loan
guaranteed by the government.
Although the DOE said it had identified and taken steps to
mitigate risks, and suspended funding when the company failed to
meet certain milestones, the IG report said the loan guarantee
program had not established "comprehensive policies, procedures
and guidance for awarding, monitoring and administering loans."
"We noted a lack of guidance in the areas of the Board's
reconsideration of loans, the processes for resolving
differences in professional opinions among the Program's
technical experts, the nature and timing of financial and
industrial analysis, and the management of distressed loans,"
the report said.
The DOE is taking steps to improve its records management
system and has hired additional staff for its portfolio
management process, the report noted.
Since the Abound situation, the DOE also set up a risk
To read the entire report on Abound, see: here
Undeterred by problems with its loan guarantees, the Obama
administration on Thursday convened a "Solar Summit" to promote
the use of the technology by private companies.
The White House also said it would lend staff and technical
support to other parts of the administration to expand the use
of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing.
The administration hopes to narrow the cost gap between
solar and more traditional energy sources by reducing red tape
and encouraging public-private partnerships.
Some $15 million will be set aside for state, local and
tribal governments to build their solar portfolios.
Renewable energy now accounts for around 5 percent of
electric generation in the United States. Solar comprises less
than 1 percent, although its use is on the rise.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, editing by Ros Krasny and