Today a Fox News correspondent claimed that if SoloPower, a solar company that may soon tap a federal loan guarantee, failed “the Obama administration would be 0 for 3.” In fact, the vast majority of Department of Energy loan guarantees awarded under President Obama have gone to clean energy projects that are still operating and employing thousands.
SoloPower recently opened a solar panel manufacturing plant in Oregon, and is now eligible to draw from its $197 million DOE loan guarantee if it meets certain performance milestones. Comparing SoloPower to Solyndra, Fox News correspondent Dan Springer claimed on America's Newsroom that “if SoloPower fails, the Obama administration would be 0 for 3”:
But only 3 out of 26 loan guarantees dispersed under the Department of Energy's 1705 loan guarantee program have gone to companies that later filed for bankruptcy. One of those three, Beacon Power, is still operating, has repaid most of its loan guarantee, and rehired most of its employees. Knowing that not all companies supported by the program would succeed, Congress budgeted $2.47 billion to cover for defaults. According to a Bloomberg Government analysis, that will be more than enough even if every high-risk project fails.
It is true that solar panel manufacturing loans like SoloPower's are riskier than loans for solar generation projects. But Fox failed to mention that over 87 percent of the funds for DOE's 1705 loan guarantee program went to power generation projects, which have almost no risk of default, according to GTM Research's Shayle Kann. While the drop in solar panel prices has hurt some solar manufacturers, it has helped solar generation projects. As a Wall Street Journal graphic based on a solar industry analysis shows, solar installations have surged, contrary to Fox's preferred narrative that solar energy is failing.