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House committee investigates government loan for solar panels that burst into flames

A congressional oversight panel wants to know when the Obama administration became aware of significant technological issues at a renewable energy company it helped fund, including the propensity of its solar panels to burst into flames when exposed to the sun.

Abound Solar Manufacturing was awarded a $400 million line-of-credit in taxpayer-backed loans from the Energy Department (DOE), and is the third company funded by President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan to go bankrupt, along with Solyndra and Beacon Power.

Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with Cliff Stearns of Florida and Cory Gardner of Colorado, sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Wednesday instructing the agency to turn over certain information on the loan.

“While documents prepared at the time DOE awarded a conditional commitment to Abound do not mention any technological problems, an engineering report submitted to DOE just two months before DOE closed Abound’s $400 million loan guarantee indicates that Abound’s panels were already experiencing significant efficiency and technological difficulties,” the lawmaker said.

Abound spent $70 million of the loan it received in 2011 before going bankrupt in July. Company officials blamed the failure on China for dumping solar panels subsidized by the Communist regime on the U.S. at prices below market value.

Upton’s committee led the congressional investigation into whether the Obama White House pressured the Energy Department to lend another solar panel company, Solyndra, $535 million in guaranteed loans. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy last year.

The committee is asking the Energy Department to turn over all engineering reports, tests and technical assessments it was provided by Abound, as well as all documents relating to the performance of its products by Oct. 24.

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House committee investigates government loan for solar panels that burst into flames

Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Cliff Stearns of Florida and Cory Gardner of Colorado, sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu instructing the agency to turn over certain information on the loan.

A congressional oversight panel wants to know when the Obama administration became aware of significant technological issues at a renewable energy company it helped fund, including the propensity of its solar panels to burst into flames when exposed to the sun.

Abound Solar Manufacturing was awarded a $400 million line-of-credit in taxpayer-backed loans from the Energy Department (DOE), and is the third company funded by President Barack Obama??s stimulus plan to go bankrupt, along with Solyndra and Beacon Power.

Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with Cliff Stearns of Florida and Cory Gardner of Colorado, sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Wednesday instructing the agency to turn over certain information on the loan.

??While documents prepared at the time DOE awarded a conditional commitment to Abound do not mention any technological problems, an engineering report submitted to DOE just two months before DOE closed Abound??s $400 million loan guarantee indicates that Abound??s panels were already experiencing significant efficiency and technological difficulties,? the lawmaker said.

Abound spent $70 million of the loan it received in 2011 before going bankrupt in July. Company officials blamed the failure on China for dumping solar panels subsidized by the Communist regime on the U.S. at prices below market value.

Upton??s committee led the congressional investigation into whether the Obama White House pressured the Energy Department to lend another solar panel company, Solyndra, $535 million in guaranteed loans. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy last year.

The committee is asking the Energy Department to turn over all engineering reports, tests and technical assessments it was provided by Abound, as well as all documents relating to the performance of its products by Oct. 24.

Written By

Audrey Hudson is an award-winning investigative journalist whose enterprise reporting has sparked numerous congressional investigations that led to laws signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She won the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for Public Service in 2009 for her report on dangerous drug experiments by the federal government on war veterans, which prompted internal investigations and needed reforms within the Veterans Affairs Department. The report also captured first place for investigative reporting by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Webby Awards for news and politics. Her breaking stories have been picked up and followed by major news publications and periodicals, including Readers Digest, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard, as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Washington Post. With nearly 20 years of experience in Washington as a newspaper reporter and as a Capitol Hill staffer for Western lawmakers, she will now lead Human Events?? coverage of energy and environmental issues. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades -- on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court. Audrey??s email is AHudson@EaglePub.Co

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