The Colorado Observer's Mark Stricherz is out with a major scoop this morning, reporting that all of Colorado's Congressional Democrats personally lobbied for now-bankrupt Abound Solar's $400 million taxpayer-backed loan.
In a letter to Obama's Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, all seven Colorado Democrats urged Chu to approve the loan.
Reports The Observer:
WASHINGTON – In April 2009, Rep. Jared Polis wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu to urge him to approve an application that an innovative clean energy company had submitted for a federal loan guarantee. The Boulder Democrat’s letter described the Loveland, Colo-based maker of solar panels as a “major success story” unable to secure more private financing because of the recession.
“Abound Solar is a showcase for the positive impact that progressive government policies and initiatives can have on the economy, national energy security, and the environment,” Polis wrote in the letter, dated April 20. “PV modules manufactured by Abound will translate to cleaner energy supplies from domestic sources, economic strength, and U.S. leadership.”
Abound Solar’s loan application stalled through the spring and summer of 2009. Three days before the first day of winter, all seven Democrats in Colorado’s congressional delegation wrote a follow-up letter to Polis’ earlier one.
Their missive complained that the agency took too long to review loan applicants’ finances, and it cited Abound as an example of the harm that can result. “While the DOE continues to consider this project, delays associated with the application process have pushed the project back, potentially harming its market position and delaying the creation of high-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs and the growth of the renewable enegy sector,” they wrote in their letter, dated Dec. 18.
Neither of the two then-Colorado House Republicans joined his Democratic counterparts in signing the letter. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs and Mike Coffman of Lone Tree declined to add their names.
It's worth noting that all of the Congressional Democrats from Colorado who signed the letter backing Abound received the maximum donations from Pat Stryker, whose Bohemian Companies was a big private investor in Abound Solar.
While it's the full Democrat delegation's full throated endorsement of Abound Solar that is most interesting, it's hard not to look at Congressman Jared Polis's first letter and laugh.
Abound Solar is a "major success story"? Yes, and the Bay of Pigs was a resounding victory.
We wonder if Polis and his fellow Democrats would stick by that characterization? Obama's spokeswoman Lis Smith recently described fellow solar panel failure Solyndra as being "widely praised as successful and innovative."
If Polis and Smith are describing Abound and Solyndra's ability to use political influence to get taxpayer money for failed ventures, then yes "amazing" and "successful" might be appropriate descriptors.
But those words belong nowhere near the situation taxpayers were stuck with.
(Photo of Congressman Jared Polis and former one-term governor Bill Ritter with Abound Solar via NREL)