FREMONT, Calif. — In 2010, the Energy Department, according to a memo written by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked the Solyndra solar equipment company to push back their announcement discussing layoffs until the 2010 midterm elections. The manufacturer is now being criticized in the 14-page memo as it investigates Solyndra and its intentions. In 2009, the Department of Energy granted a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, but as the company filed for bankruptcy in September 2011, it was forced to dismiss more than 1,000 of its workers.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s memo acts as a basis for questioning Steven Chu, the U.S. Energy Secretary, in his hearing tomorrow. Chu will be queried regarding his relationship with Solyndra’s federal loan guarantee as well as the risky decision to reconstruct the loan from earlier this year. According to the memo, Brian Harrison, CEO of Solyndra from July 2010 until he resigned on October 7 of this year, sent the department an email of his plans to inform employees of future layoffs. This email was forwarded to Chu’s Chief of Staff and Vice President Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff, in which they advised Solyndra to hold off on their announcement until November 3, the day after the 2010 congressional midterm elections.
The memo also includes information about the controversial decision to reform Solyndra’s loan. The memo says that Chu met with Jacob Lew, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, in the beginning of the year to discuss Solyndra’s loan program. No evidence has yet established that the loan guarantee was granted due to political favoritism. The hearing of Chu’s testimony, entitled “The Solyndra Failure: Views from DOE Secretary Chu,” is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, November 17 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.