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Chu Defends U.S. Clean-Energy Support After Solyndra Criticism

Energy Secretary Steven Chu defended U.S. support for clean-energy projects a day after Republicans criticized him at a congressional hearing for backing failed solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC.

“The stakes are too high to turn our backs on the clean-energy industry,” Chu said in remarks prepared for a visit today to a General Electric Co. solar manufacturing plant in Arvada, Colorado. Critics of U.S. backing for solar and wind energy “are ready to wave the white flag and declare defeat.”

Chu endured five hours of questioning yesterday on Solyndra from an investigations panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Senior officials in President Barack Obama’s administration ignored or minimized “red flags” about the company’s finances, Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican and the committee’s chairman, said at the hearing. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy protection Sept. 6, two years after getting a $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee.

Chu said he anticipates that the government will recover “not very much” of the aid to Solyndra.

Support for “new and innovative technologies comes with inherent risk,” and global competition from nations such as China is “fierce,” Chu said today.

The government and the private sector should work together to ensure that clean-energy technologies are produced in the U.S. and sold globally, he said.

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