Murkowski Welcomes Independent Review of DOE Loans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s decision to order an independent review of recent renewable energy loans made by the Department of Energy:

“I welcome the administration’s decision to conduct a serious review of the stimulus loan guarantee program,” Murkowski said. “There are many questions that have yet to be answered about Solyndra, and the Department of Energy’s administration of the program in general. An independent review will serve as a complement to, but not a replacement for, continuing congressional oversight of this matter. Every step that can be taken – whether public hearings in the committees of jurisdiction or an independent review – is appropriate at this time.”

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on which Murkowski is the ranking member, has oversight of DOE and its Loan Programs Office. Murkowski’s statement comes the same day that news of another solar company, Beacon Power Corp., which received $43 million in backing from the 2009 stimulus loan guarantee program, filed for bankruptcy.

Murkowski has called for the Senate Energy Committee to hold a hearing on the stimulus loan program and the original loan guarantee program created under Energy Policy Act of 2005. She’s also requested DOE officials to testify at that hearing. The House has been conducting oversight since February of the administration’s handling of the loan guarantee programs but, so far, the Senate has scheduled no hearings on the issue.

“As the committee of jurisdiction, I feel it is the duty of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to conduct oversight on this matter and have asked Chairman Bingaman to schedule such a hearing,” Murkowski wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Sept. 22.

Murkowski pointed out that Soyndra and Beacon received government backing under the loan guarantee language in the 2009 stimulus bill, not the original loan guarantee program drafted by the Senate Energy Committee and passed in EPAct 2005. The original loan guarantee program required applicants to cover their own credit subsidy costs, substantially reducing the risk to taxpayers. The Obama administration eliminated that requirement under its 2009 stimulus program.