NEWS: California Investigative Watchdog Discovers Number of Jobs Lost in Solyndra Debacle Lowballed by Nearly 75%

June 13, 2012

The Bay Citizen

June 13, 2012

Solyndra layoffs larger than previously reported

Documents show nearly 1,900 people lost their jobs as solar panel maker closed

By: Aaron Glantz

On the day it closed, Solyndra said it was laying off 1,100 full-time and temporary employees.

But 1,861 workers lost their jobs as the solar panel manufacturer shut its doors, according to U.S. Labor Department documents provided to The Bay Citizen under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents also show the Fremont-based company increased production in 2011, even though it failed to sell all the panels it made the previous year.

By the time it closed last August, Solyndra had an unsold inventory of more than 23 megawatts - enough solar panels to power about 23,000 homes.

Analysts said the revelations are likely to add new fuel to the partisan fire surrounding the demise of Solyndra, which received a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009.

”Information like this represents a great deal of ammunition for Romney and his allies,” said Dan Schnur, a former Republican political consultant who now runs the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

Last month, Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate, appeared outside the grounds of the shuttered factory with news cameras in tow and declared Solyndra to be a symbol of economic “failure.”

Two years earlier, President Barack Obama visited the company's Fremont headquarters and called its new plant, which was funded by the loan guarantee, a "testament to American ingenuity and dynamism."

In an email Tuesday, Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, the Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee, said the Labor Department documents reveal that "Solyndra was doing much, much worse" than the company and the Energy Department publicly acknowledged in the months before the company declared bankruptcy.

Upton has led a congressional investigation into Solyndra's failure. He and other Republicans have argued that the high-ranking Obama administration officials interceded on the company's behalf to get the loan guarantee.

"The more we learn by the day, the worse the news gets," he said.

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