FBI Investigates Solyndra Bankruptcy
After having received a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. government, solar panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC filed for bankruptcy. The Fremont, California-based company has now been served with multiple search warrants by the FBI at its headquarters. The FBI is carrying out an investigation in collaboration with the Department of Energy’s Office of the Inspector General.
Solyndra was once hailed by President Barack Obama as a beneficiary of his administration’s investments in a green American economy. However, last week the company laid off 1,100 workers and filed for bankruptcy, which is odd considering the company posted 2,000 percent growth in sales revenue over the past three years. Along with the massive loan guarantee, Solyndra secured over $1 billion in private investment.
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The company is now being sued by its laid off workers for compensation.
The Republican arm of the U.S. government has been looking into the Solyndra loan guarantee for months now, suspecting something out of the ordinary was afoot. The House of Representatives’ Commerce Committee has subpoenaed documents from the White House Office of Management and Budget relating to Solyndra’s loan.
Solyndra’s closing on August 31, 2011 also violated the state and federal WARN law, which requires advanced notice of a large layoff or shutdown. However, the company has stated that it is exempt from the law under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act.
The big question on everyone’s mind is: where’s the money? Not only the government’s money, but the private investors as well. How does a company with 2,000 percent growth in three years suddenly, and with no warning, go bankrupt? It sounds like there is definitely some foul play at hand, and hopefully the FBI will bring any criminal activity to the forefront. It’s truly unfortunate that as solar power finally begins to reach price parity with conventional forms of energy like coal and oil, one company’s poor showing can tarnish the industry’s reputation. Hopefully this incident will not affect further government investment in renewable energy like solar power. However, considering the back and forth finger pointing going on in Washington, coupled with election year right around the corner, I have a feeling Obama’s Republican competition will pack this incident away as useful ammo against the president’s green economic policies on the campaign trail.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.