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My Old Job

Boulder, Colorado

December 12, 2020

The above article is from the WSJ.

It is talking about where I used to work at the Department of Energy. Yes, I worked in the “Solyndra” group.

No matter what you read, we were not a bunch of bureaucrats throwing around taxpayers’ money. I certainly think of myself as rather competent in the area of project finance. We worked with the best consultants and law firms in the country on these deals. (They worked for DOE but their bills were paid by the projects. And they were big bills!)

You can argue whether the government should be in the business of helping new industries bridge the “valley of death.” That’s where projects can’t raise debt because the market does not have a track record with the technology. (Most every government in developed world is in that business for select industries.). That decision was above my pay grade. But Congress under G.W. Bush set up the program. In other words, it was a Republican idea.

The program has a better track record than 95 percent of lenders which is remarkable given we dealt with first-of-a-kind technologies.

The WSJ doesn’t point out that net net the program has generated a profit for the Treasury.

But what really bothers me is this. If the WSJ is so wrong and one sided on this little piece of news, how wrong and one sided is it on the rest of the news? If I were a teacher, I’d flunk the writer of this piece. Sloppy, biased reporting. She had an agenda and she tortured the facts until they fit her agenda.

Yeah, it sucks this technology failed. Other projects we financed are using molten salt storage effectively. In fact the molten salt storage wasn’t the innovative part of this project as I recall. (We could only finance projects that in some significant way were using innovative technology). Since we did this deal, the industry has moved to using solar panels with battery storage (yeah, we financed the first of those, too.)

We were proud of how tough we were on the borrowers. We knew they had no other options but to borrow from us and we used that to our advantage. We were more proud of how many projects we turned away because they were too risky.

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Yikes. Sorry for the typos.

Dec 19, 2020

Agreed. While I haven’t watched “The Reagans,” from your description, it sounds like a poor one-sided view of the Reagan presidency. And I agree with you Steve that such progressive dribble just serves as fodder for “the right” to say “see left is off the rails.” In my humble opinion, we’d be better off just telling the far left and far right to shut up. I believe that there are reasonable people on the middle of the road left and the middle of the road right. We need to stop seeing the “other side” as Evil. Most liberals are by not for socialism just as most on the right understand there are some roles government should rightfully play.


Dec 19, 2020

Based on your assessment, the WSJ cherry-picked facts to suit the conclusion they wanted to reach. Not too unusual. These days, I'm just happy if they don't manufacture their own facts.

I must note that the right has no monopoly on distorting historical fact. Shelley and I have been watching the Showtime series "The Reagans." It is among the biggest hack jobs I have ever seen. It features long diatribes by left-wing academics talking about how Reagan is responsible for everything evil that has happened in the past 40 years (exaggeration, but slight). Reagan gets no credit for restoring the American military, winning the Cold War, eliminating penal marginal tax rates, reducing strangling regulation, and reforming the tax system. …

Dec 13, 2020

WSJ really isn't have a banner week...

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