Obama remains supportive of renewable energy sector despite recent wave of solar company shutdowns, bankruptcies in U.S.; White House says America 'can, must and will win' the 'clean-energy jobs race'

Bdebbie Garcia

Bdebbie Garcia

Sep 2, 2011 – Industry Intelligence

LOS ANGELES , September 2, 2011 () – Despite the recent spate of U.S. solar companies shutting down and declaring bankruptcy, President Barack Obama remains supportive of the industry, according to a White House spokesperson, reported Bloomberg News on Sept. 1.

The downturn in the industry has “disappointed” the Obama administration, but the belief remains that “the clean-energy jobs race is one that America can, must and will win,” said White House spokesperson Eric Schultz.

Recently, Fremont, California-based Solyndra Inc. became the third U.S. solar company to go under in a month, as the industry caves in to weak demand worldwide and falling solar panel prices, Bloomberg reported.

Republican House members Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida called Solyndra’s failure “the latest casualty of the Obama administration’s failed stimulus.”

However, it was not expected that every “innovative” company would succeed, said Dan Leistikow, director of the Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Public Affairs. He blamed the industry’s downturn on “the changing economics.”

Solyndra, which is expected to file for Chapter 11 protection on Sept. 7, received a US$535 million U.S. loan guarantee, of which it has borrowed $527 million so far, said Damien LaVera, a DOE spokesperson, reported Bloomberg.

The company indicated it could no longer compete with “larger, foreign manufacturers,” and blamed the slowing global demand for solar panels in part on the “uncertainty in governmental incentive programs in Europe.”

Last month, U.S. solar companies SpectraWatt Inc. and Evergreen Solar Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection. SpectraWatt, based in Hopewell Junction, New York, had received grants totaling $650,000 from the National Science Foundation and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, saw the bankruptcies as a sign that the U.S. needs to do “everything possible to ensure the U.S. does not cede the renewable energy market to China and other countries,” Bloomberg reported.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg News, New York, New York, on Sept. 1, 2011.

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