The act would require an assessment of all past renewable-energy loan guarantees, loans, grants, and direct payments, as well as an independent review of all future renewable-energy loan guarantees. A similar bill is pending in the Senate.
As the House panel voted Thursday, Chu defended his programs under questioning before an energy conference.
“As we look at what happened in Solyndra, … hindsight is often said to be 20/20. In this case, I think some of the hindsight was 20/10 or even better — clairvoyant,” Chu said at the Washington Post Live Smart Energy Conference in Washington.
“There were things that where the market took an unexpected turn -- the cost of solar modules dropped tremendously in a very short period of time, and in the time we gave the loan; totally unexpected. We were watching all those market conditions. But going forward, I think knowing what we knew at the time doing these things, I think one has to take risks in order to promote innovative manufacturing.
“My message to Congress is more along the same lines of what I said here today, that this is a key time in American history. There is key opportunity, to seize the opportunity, to not walk away when there’s a stumble. You can learn from those and keep going, because this is the direction I believe, the president believes, the administration believes is the direction which is key to our job creation today and our future prosperity.”
Issa’s letter to Chu referred to loan guarantees that the department authorized in late September on the day the program’s funding was set to expire. On Sept. 30, the agency committed $4.7 billion in stimulus funds to projects led by SunPower, Exelon, NRG Energy, and a joint partnership led by NextEra and a General Electric subsidiary.
“The incomplete response from the Department of Energy is unacceptable considering the amount of time that has elapsed since the request,” Issa wrote in the letter dated Wednesday. He said he would compel the administration to produce the requested documents and correspondence “if DOE continues to refuse to cooperate fully with this investigation.”