The high-profile and controversial collapse of Solyndra and Beacon Power has led critics to question the integrity and merit of DOE’s loan guarantee program. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was asked to respond to these criticisms before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on 11/17/11. Rep. Stearns (R-FL), chairman of the subcommittee, said “it is readily apparent that senior officials in the administration put politics before the stewardship of taxpayer dollars” [NYT].

Dr. Chu denied this, arguing that a tough global market was to blame, that struggling loan recipients “got caught in a very, very bad tsunami.” He defended the value of the loan program, stating that “when it comes to the clean energy race, America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat.” On 11/21/11 USA Today released an analysis showing that many companies that received funding under the same program experienced strong growth.