After filing bankruptcy, Solyndra is raided by the FBI

Solyndra's solar panels use a photovoltaic copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) compound around a series of tubes until they resemble a row of black, fluorescent lights. Each module is rounded to catch the maximum amount of light from any direction, so the panels don't need to be angled in any way and secured like traditional PV panels.

Steve Chiotakis: The solar company Solyndra was the very first company to receive federal loan guarantees
from the Energy Department to help create green jobs. But earlier this week the firm filed for bankruptcy. Yesterday, the FBI and Department of Energy's inspector general raided the company's northern California offices.

From Silicon Valley, Marketplace's Steve Henn reports.


Steve Henn: Back in 2009 Solyndra the received more than half a billion dollars in loans to build a new plant and create more than a 1,000 high tech solar jobs.

Peter Kohlstadt was an electrical engineer there.

Peter Kohlstadt: my kids used to brag, you know, hey I worked at Solyndra.

Solyndra was trying to build and market a more efficient solar panel. But it couldn't compete against a wave of cheaper Chinese imports. Solyndra lost hundreds of millions of dollars and went bankrupt this week. The FBI wouldn't comment in the details of yesterdays raid but the involvement of the Department of Energy's inspector general suggests the probe is focusing on the DOE loans guarantees.

Ronnie Green is a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative reporting group. He says the department of energy failed to complete due diligence before extending the loan guarantees to Solyndra.

Ronnie Green: What we found when they made that announcement in May 2009 is that they didn't have a full legal or a full marketing review in hand.

Green also found that more than more than a billion dollars in loan guarantees went to companies -- like Solydra -- that were financed by President Obama's political fundraisers.

In Silicon Valley, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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