The Facts About Green Energy Loans and Lobbying

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Beware of those attempting to make Solyndra appear as a lone bad actor in a squeaky clean green energy industry.

Solyndra's executives did their Congressional "perp walk" on Friday morning, invoking the Fifth Amendment as they refused to answer questions from the House Energy investigative subcommittee about the bankruptcy of the White House-backed solar company.

At the same time, The New York Times has published a lengthy piece looking into the by-now old information about Solyndra's lobbying efforts, even quoting the head of another solar firm to receive a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, SoloPower, as saying it never dreamed of lobbying and was told, in fact, that any lobbying in Washington D.C. would be viewed negatively. Well, if SoloPower never dreamed of lobbying the government, that would be as "isolated" an event as many in green energy circles would like you to believe Solyndra's implosion is.
President Obama in the now-infamous photo-op shot at Solyndra

The fact is, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, many of the green energy companies and projects that have received loan guarantees from the Department of Energy also contributed money to political campaigns in 2010.

As we've argued before, lobbying is the rule on Capitol Hill, and Solyndra did its part. And while it's fair to say the extent of Solyndra's lobbying portrays a hubristic company carried away with its sudden access to power, its specific ties to the White House should be considered a separate matter.

When running through the list of projects to receive a loan guarantee from Department of Energy, or conditional commitment which would need to be closed by Sept. 30, the lobbying dollars are extensive. And while in many cases the amounts are equal or less than Solyndra's pork payments, the numbers in other cases are larger.

Of the 32 projects that received a Department of Energy loan guarantee and/or a conditional committment within the same "1705" program as Solyndra, more than half, 17 exactly, are affiliated with companies that spent money on lobbying in 2010.

Here are the projects and or companies (in alphabetical order) who have received Department of Energy loan guarantees, or are currently in the conditional commitment phase -- that lobbied the government in 2010:

1. Abengoa Bioenergy
  • Loan guarantee:
  • $133.9 million -- conditional commitment
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $150,000

    2. Abengoa Solar

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $1.2 billion loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $120,000

    3. AES Corp.

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $17.1 million loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $80,000

    4. Agua Caliente (project developer First Solar)

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $967 million loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $720,000 (First Solar)

    5. BrightSource Energy

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $1.6 billion loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $290,000

    6. Caithness Energy

  • Loan guarantee:
  • partial loan guarantee on $1.3 billion loan
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $60,000

    7. Cogentrix of Alamosa

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $90.6 million loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $60,000 (Congentrix Energy)

    8. First Solar (Antelope project)

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $680 million loan guarantee -- conditional commitment
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $720,000

    9. First Solar (Desert Sunlight project)

  • Loan guarantee:
  • partial guarantee on $1.88 billion loan -- conditional commitment
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $720,000

    10. First Solar (Topaz project)

  • Loan guarantee:
  • partial guarantee on $1.93 billion loan -- conditional commitment
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $720,000 (First Solar announced on Thursday it would not close the Topaz loan)

    11. LS Power Associates

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $343 million loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $200,000

    12. Ormat Nevada

  • Loan guarantee:
  • partial guarantee on $350 million loan -- conditional commitment
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $100,000

    13. POET LLC

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $105 million loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $860,000

    14. SolarCity Corp.

  • Loan guarantee:
  • partial guarantee on $344 million loan -- conditional commitment
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $355,000 (under two separate registered entities)

    15. SolarReserve.

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $737 million loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $180,000

    16. SunPower

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $1.2 billion loan guarantee -- conditional commitment
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $90,000

    17. US Geothermal

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $97 million loan guarantee
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $30,000

    In addition, two large utilities that received loan guarantees for renewable energy generation projects lobbied the government in 2010:

    NextEra Energy Resources (Genesis Solar)

  • Loan guarantee:
  • partial guarantee on $852 million loan
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $2.3 million

    Sempra Energy (Mesquite Solar 1)

  • Loan guarantee:
  • $398 million loan guarantee -- conditional commitment
  • Lobbying in 2010:
  • $1 million

    -- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York

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