Energy Dept. Loan Director Leaving After Solyndra

Jonathan Silver, executive director of the U.S. program that awarded Solyndra LLC a $535 million federal loan guarantee, is leaving, the Energy Department said.

While Silver joined the Energy Department after the solar panel maker received its loan, Representative Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House panel investigating the award, has said he should be fired for his handling of the loan since arriving.

Silver, 54, led the loan office as Solyndra’s financial condition worsened, culminating in the department’s agreement in January to let taxpayer support take a back seat to funds from fresh investors in a last-ditch effort to rescue the company.

“Jonathan assembled and managed a truly outstanding team that has transformed the program into the world leader in financing innovative clean-energy projects,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said today in a statement.

Chu said Silver told him in July of his intention to leave after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, when the loan program would have “no significant funds.”

The energy secretary, who has been criticized for the Solyndra loan, said he had “absolute confidence” in Silver and wanted him to stay.

Silver is leaving to become a distinguished visiting fellow at The Third Way, a Washington-based think tank that says it promotes moderate policies.

Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

Solar panels sit at Solyndra Inc. at their manufacturing plant in Fremont, California. Close

Solar panels sit at Solyndra Inc. at their manufacturing plant in Fremont, California.

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Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

Solar panels sit at Solyndra Inc. at their manufacturing plant in Fremont, California.

Second Application

Solyndra filed for bankruptcy protection Sept. 6 and had its Fremont, California, offices raided by the FBI two days later.

The company applied for a $469 million U.S. loan guarantee a week after winning the first loan in September 2009, according to a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission three months later. The second guarantee would have helped finance an expansion of a factory the company hadn’t yet built.

Chu said today that the second application “was not ever in serious contention.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Snyder in Washington at jsnyder24@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net

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