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  • Feds Investigate Stimulus-Backed Solar Companies With Political Ties

    Three solar companies are under investigation for potentially inflating costs in order to draw down more money from a stimulus-funded loan program. All three boast investors with significant ties to the Obama White House.

    The Treasury Department has subpoenaed Solar City, SunRun, and Sungevity, The Washington Post reports, seeking to determine “whether the companies accurately reported the market value of their costs when applying for federal reimbursement, which was calculated at one-third of the costs.”

    The three companies received stimulus grants through Treasury’s 1603 stimulus grant program, which “off ers renewable energy project developers cash payments in lieu of the investment tax credits (ITC),” according to the text of the statute.

    The companies have received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to install residential solar panels.

    “But the prices some of these industry leaders charged for their work were sometimes far higher than the broader industry’s market rate, according to solar experts and details of the Treasury investigation released in company reports,” according to the Post. “While firms can install solar panels for roughly $5 per watt of energy and make a comfortable profit, some firms were charging as much as $7 and $8 per watt.”

    Federal officials and others involved in the solar industry had voiced concerns over the companies’ apparently inflated costs. According to the Post, some of that scrutiny has been reserved for the companies’ “financial partners.”

    Some of those partners have notable connections to the Obama White House. SolarCity, which was recently audited by the Internal Revenue Service and went public last week, is run by billionaire Elon Musk, a prominent Obama supporter.

    SolarCity’s investors also have significant ties to the White House. Venture capital firm Silver Lake Kraftwerk backed SolarCity with $81 million in capital. Kraftwerk, which is owned by billionaire liberal financier George Soros, employs former Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathy Zoi, who oversaw the disbursement of more than $30 billion in green energy stimulus funds in her Department of Energy post. Zoi is reportedly on the shortlist for Energy Secretary should Steven Chu step down during Obama’s second term.

    Citigroup is also a major SolarCity investor. Michael Froman, a close college friend of Obama’s, managed Citi’s alternative investment portfolio until he left for a top White House post in 2009. Froman was key to the President’s 2008 election effort, connecting him with major donors in New York’s financial industry. Froman also served on Obama’s 2008 transition team.

    Sungevity also has major ties to the Obama Administration. Tom Steyer, the “main financial backer” of Sungevity investor Greener Capital and a major Obama donor, is an aggressive activist for more federal environmental regulation and taxpayer backing for green energy companies. Steyer “said he had spent time consulting with the Obama administration after last November’s election,” according to The New York Times.

    “President Obama knows that advanced energy is America’s future,” Steyer said in a speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention. “And my bet, as a businessman, is that he’s exactly right.” That “bet” has paid off for Steyer in taxpayer support for a major Greener investment.

    SunRun, for its part, has ties to the White House through one of its investors, Foundation Capital. General partner Paul Holland was invited to introduce the President at a White House event on green energy in 2009. Asked how he got the gig, Holland told The Wall Street Journal that Foundation partner Steve Vassallo “has a friend in the White House who asked him for help on this event.”

    Image credit: Karen T. Borchers/San Jose Mercury News/MCT

    Posted in Scribe [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Feds Investigate Stimulus-Backed Solar Companies With Political Ties

    1. NoSurpriseHere... says:

      …when the fox is guarding the henhouse.

    2. Doggoneit says:

      This late breaking news just in – - The Federally funded solar companies have just been granted a pass as the new system was not perfected completely when they were given the opportunity to make money using the untested system. The companies promised to do better next time and the Washington officials granted them amnesty. All three are forming new corporations and companies and think that new technology will aid their development in assisting the public.

    3. Tommy Owens says:

      all our government knows how to do is piss our money away for their benefit to stay in office(not ours)…thats why there should be term limits & every polition should go back to being the average Joe like the rest of us….out of office, go back to what they did before with no public tax dollar benefits until retirement age like the rest of us….get their own insurance(if they can afford it like we struggle to do)…and if any members of the the House or Senate were worth a grain of salt they would accept the Obamacare plan like the rest of use will have to do( which most of us don't)…and not have the great health care we pay for them now( Is the plan not good enough for them)….no members in the political gang are more important to get better health care than the average Joe that pays their salary & then they try to blow smoke up our tails for a vote….this crap is getting crazy( They think all of us are really that stupid)…..LOL I feel better now….

    4. @HuandaRulz says:

      You don't have to wonder who is behind the EPA war on coal, or the preservation of the lie that global warming is… All you have to do is follow the money. Nobody is going to promote an agenda that is harmful to them, they will promote it because is beneficial in more ways than financially. Is a fact that behind every "great" cause is a great interest, so don't believe it when you see this big names endorsing a cause for the poor, for the enviroment and so on. They use the gullible people that somehow does develop a real interest and are brainwashed into believing that they are doing the right thing, they just become the useful idiots that are in the frontlines.
      If tjhis investigation proves to be a real one, then The POTUS and all the political machine is going to be in trouble. Good thing they have the media on their side.

    5. @BTeboe says:

      We reward our friends and punish our enemies – Barack Obama

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