Energy Department Caught Trying to Revise History

Thanks to CNBC, the Department of Energy has been caught removing references to “SunPower,” a solar energy company that was given $1.2 billion in loan guarantees, from old press releases (H/T Hotair).

“The changes occurred in two press releases from the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program — the same program that has been the center of controversy surrounding the failed solar company Solyndra,” reports Eamon Javers of CNBC.

“Both were changed to remove the name of a company that has received negative press attention in recent days, SunPower, and replace it with the name of another company, NRG Energy,” he added.

Watch the CNBC video:

What does this mean?

Hotair puts it bluntly:

Clean energy, cronyism, and another gigantic taxpayer loan headed down the toilet. As Andrew Stiles says, “SunPower is currently on track to become the second embarrassing failure in the DOE’s loan portfolio.”

Presumably DOE wants to do what little it can to scrub the company from its database before it melts down and another hugely embarrassing “federal-backed green project goes bust” media cycle begins.

Sadly, this story should not come as a surprise to many Blaze readers (or anyone else following the Fed’s energy loan program).

The Blaze has been investigating several of the energy investments of the Obama administration. We have meticulously cataloged the details of the Solyndra scandal, including the story of it’s loan restructuring and the fact that the administration was preparing to give it a second multimillion-dollar loan guarantee.

The Blaze also reported on a little known story that involved $420,000 in taxpayer-backed guarantees that were wasted on a doomed-from-the-start truck stop project in Tennessee.

There were other similar investments that The Blaze put on the radar because, like Solyndra, they did not sound like “good” bets and they reeked of cronyism.

An article titled Report: $737 Million ‘Green Jobs’ Loan Given to Company Affiliated with Pelosi’s Bro-in-Law revealed that there was a suspected level of cronyism involved in the awarding of $737 million to a solar energy company associated with Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law.

Another Blaze article titled Next Round: Obama Admin Authorizes Billions More In Loan Guarantees to Solar Companies reported that two more solar power companies were being awarded billions in loan guarantees.

There was First Solar, which received $3.1 billion ($967 million guarantee for a project in Arizona, $646 million for one in Antelope Valley and $1.46 billion for its 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight plant), and there was SunPower, which received $1.2 billion in loan guarantees.

Apparently, things started to unravel for the latter of those two companies. In an article titled The Next Round of Companies That Could Go Bankrupt, The Blaze documented the fact that SunPower (the solar energy company that received $1.2 billion in loan guarantees) was:

. . . getting destroyed with the rest of the U.S. industry. SunPower sold its 250MW California Valley Solar Ranch to NRG Energy this year. It also just signed a new $275 million revolving credit facility as well as a new $200 million letter of credit facility, according to Reuters.

Business Insider also noted that SunPower had a financial distress probability of 3.20 percent (as calculated by GovernanceMetrics International).

Next, Human Events brought us this:

How did a failing California solar company, buffeted by short sellers and shareholder lawsuits, receive a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee for a photovoltaic electricity ranch project—three weeks after it announced it was building new manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico, to build the panels for the project?

The company, SunPower (SPWR-NASDAQ), now carries $820 million in debt, an amount $20 million greater than its market capitalization.

If SunPower were a bank, the feds would shut it down. Instead, it received a lifeline twice the size of the money sent down the Solyndra drain.

Two men with insight into the process are SunPower rooter Rep. George R. Miller III, (D.-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee and the co-chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and his SunPower lobbyist son, George Miller IV.

Miller the Elder is a strong advocate for SunPower, which converted an old Richmond, Calif., Ford plant in his district to a panel-manufacturing facility.

So where do we stand?

The sad fact of the matter is that SunPower may be the next solar energy company to go broke. And where does that put the taxpayer?

Let’s see:

  • Mountain Plaza Inc.: $424,000
  • Solyndra: $535,000,000
  • SunPower: $1,200,000,000
  • Grand total: $1,735,424,000

Keep your eyes on First Solar ($3.1 billion in loan guarantees).

Who knows? They may be the next “safe” investment to keel over.

Update via CNBC: “On Wednesday evening, a Department of Energy spokesman said that the press releases had been returned to their original content as a result of CNBC’s inquiry about the changes.”