NEWS: CNBC "Energy Department Altered Solyndra-Related Documents"

October 19, 2011

In the midst of the ongoing Solyndra debacle, recent media reports raised questions about a $1.2 billion loan guarantee given to the solar company SunPower through the same program that brought us Solyndra. CNBC has discovered several SunPower references were apparently whitewashed from the DOE website, raising alarming questions as Congressional investigators are still collecting documents related to the Solyndra investigation. What other information has DOE tampered with related to SunPower or, for that matter, Solyndra and the overall loan guarantee program?

Energy Department Altered Solyndra-Related Documents
CNBC

Wednesday, 19 Oct 2011 | 2:39 PM ET

Someone affiliated with the Department of Energy has been going back to make changes to press releases posted on the Internet weeks and months ago, CNBC has found.

The changes occurred in two press releases from the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program -- the same program that has been the center of controversy surrounding the failed solar company Solyndra.

Both were changed to remove the name of a company that has received negative press attention in recent days, SunPower, and replace it with the name of another company,NRG Energy.

Generally, it is not considered correct procedure to revise old press releases retroactively on the Web. More commonly, government agencies will issue a new press release with a current date explaining any changes that have occurred.

In the April case, the Department of Energy loan programs office announced in a press release on April 12 "conditional commitment" to a $1.187 billion loan guarantee to support the California Valley Solar Ranch project, which it said was "sponsored by SunPower Corporation."

But that release was later changed on one website to say the project was "sponsored by NRG Energy." The date on the release remained "April 12, 2011."

The two companies are closely linked. Just before the announcement of the loan guarantee in September, NRG completed its long-in-process acquisition from SunPower of the same California Valley Solar Ranch project that had received federal support.

But in April, that project was still owned by SunPower, not NRG.

In a second instance of retroactive press release revision, someone changed a release from September 30 that announced the finalization of the California Solar Generation project. In an early version of the September 30 press release, the government said the project was "sponsored by SunPower." That was later changed to "sponsored by NRG Energy."

Read the full story HERE.

Watch the CNBC video HERE.