Panel probes White House support of Colo. company

Associated Press Modified: October 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm •  Published: October 30, 2012

DENVER (AP) — Emails between an independent consultant and the Obama administration suggest the consultant felt pressure to help arrange a loan guarantee for a Colorado solar panel manufacturer that later went bankrupt.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce asked the administration this month to explain what the U.S. Department of Energy knew about problems with a $400 million federal loan guarantee awarded to Abound Solar.

The Loveland-based company filed for bankruptcy protection this summer and laid off about 125 workers after spending approximately $70 million of its loan guarantees.

An Abound spokesman didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

Abound has been compared to Solyndra, a California solar panel maker that went bankrupt last year after spending a $535 million federal loan guarantee.

Department of Energy spokesman Damien LaVera said the agency provided documents about Abound Solar to Congress and insisted politics were not a factor in granting the loan guarantees.

Republican Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, a member of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said Tuesday the administration knew in advance there were problems with the company's finances.

Emails between the department and an independent consultant, Jim McCrea, suggest McCrea felt pressure to help arrange the loan guarantee.

In a 2010 email sent about two months before the loan was announced, McCrea said technical analysts "have major issues with the transaction," including company plans for a second plant and the high price of mineral supplies needed by the firm.

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