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
Oct 6, 2011
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Obama's top economic advisor Lawrence Summers and our VC Energy Entrepreneur Jonathan Silver come from the left-wing of Harvard and both in their governement roles have contributed in their smal way to the wonderfully recovering economy... At the end of the day, it is the American people who pay for the politics of cronyismand crappy government interventions. Both Lawrence and Jonathan are not impacted by their scandalous performances at the helm of Obama's economic ship. They will land at yet another port of economic call and enjoy their lifestyles as they await another day to serve the American public and squander the public treasury.
"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." It should also be noted Solyndras loan application had been refused by the Bush administration because of concerns the company would fail by Sept. 2011. Ignoring all the warnings from the people in charge of the program under Bush, the Solyndra application was fast tracked within days of Obama taking office. Silver was put in charge to replace the 'Bush obstructionists' and enforce the new presidents plans to ignore facts and play crony capitalist with our tax dollars.
...these people are incredibly insulated from the reality of most of America. They are all "rent seekers" who's standard of living is in little way affected by their personal performance.
The U.S. government has no business acting as a venture capital operation using non-voluntary tax dollars. Promoting sector or industry development is one consideration but payoffs to fundraisers is simply illegal. What occurred with Solyndra was a crime on the magnitude of Bernie Madoff. This operation played out at the highest levels of the administration and as such Obama and his cronies should be spending some serious time in prison. Why Silvers is being taken to the task is beyond comprehension.
Hates Idiots, A couple of points. The Bush Administration didn't outright reject Solyndra's loan guarantee. A DOE credit review committee remanded the loan back to the agency without prejudice because it wasn???t ready for conditional commitment (this according to the DOE). Two months later, the same committee approved the loan once Solyndra improved its application. Of course, it's impossible to know whether the Bush administration would have ultimately awarded the loan guarantee. Maybe there would have been a last-minute decision to reject it. However, Walter Streight Howes, a director in the Department of Energy under President George W. Bush, told Platts in an interview last week that he would have approved the loan as well and that he saw Solyndra as "a good gamble." Howe's stance today seems to indicate that Solyndra would've received the loan guarantee regardless of whether Bush or Obama had been in office. To be clear, there were a number of Obama administration-specific failures with this loan guarantee, especially the management of it in the months after the original award was approved.
No matter how you try to spin this, the fact remains that the "government is a crappy venture capitalist". (Obama's top economic advisor Lawrence Summers words, not mine) The government isn't "well-equipped" to make such decisions, although I have to give at least some government bean counters some credit for picking to the month that Solyndra would fail nearly 3 years out. It was clear the politicians with alternate agendas and motives that signed off on this deal. So your point is that this was such a marginal deal that even the Bush Administration was on the verge of signing off on it? Hardly makes for a convincing argument for the government being in the VC business. It really doesn't matter who is in the White House.
The bottom line is, DOE political leadership opinions aside, the recomendation from the actual DOE financial people doing the loan review under the Bush administration had given it a solid no which the Bush White House followed. Offcially DOE remanded the loan back, but for all intents and purposes the loan app was dead until Obama got in office.