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DOE loan chief Jonathan Silver resigns

DOE loan chief Jonathan Silver resigns

Posting in Energy

DOE loan chief Jonathan Silver has resigned. The departure would be apropos -- the program did officially end Sept. 30 -- if it weren't for the controversy still swirling around the bankruptcy of loan guarantee recipient Solyndra.

The Department of Energy's loan chief Jonathan Silver has resigned. His departure would be apropos -- the program did officially end Sept. 30 -- if it weren't for the controversy and congressional investigation still swirling around the bankruptcy of loan guarantee recipient Solyndra.

Alas, someone had to go. Silver apparently informed DOE head Steven Chu back in July that he intended to leave after the loan guarantee program ended this fall, the Washington Post reported. Still, the timing of his resignation feels like a fall guy kind of moment.

The DOE hired Silver back in November 2009 to head its alternative energy and advanced auto investment programs. At the time, the agency, which had billions of dollars in loans and loan guarantees to hand out to alternative energy firms and automakers, had been criticized as slow and inefficient.

The DOE hired Silver, a former managing partner at venture capitalist firm Core Capital Partners, to help streamline its operations. It should be noted that the DOE awarded the program's flagship $535 million loan guarantee to the now-defunct Solyndra prior to Silver's arrival.

Two years ago, I wrote that it was a development worth noting because it was in line with President Obama's apparent love of all things VC. When Obama was a senator and presidential candidate he floated a plant to create a cleantech venture capital fund to move technologies from the lab to commercialization, Earth2Tech reported back in 2007.

Silver is heading to think tank Third Way as a visiting distinguished senior fellow, according to a press release issued today. The think tank plans to tap Silver's inside the beltway and private sector experience to help it figure out how to jumpstart an innovative clean energy economy in the United States. More specifically, he'll work to expand Third Way's clean energy team's innovation project, which aims to create a viable policy agenda.

Silver isn't free and clear just yet. Even though the loan guarantee was awarded to Solyndra before he was hired, a House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee is investigating why DOE officials changed the loan terms in the months leading up to the bankruptcy announcement.

Photo: Energy Department

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure