Solar Firms Under Federal Investigation For "Misrepresenting" Figures in Claiming Stimulus Loans


Back in November Big Government reported that renewable energy firm SolarCity was under investigation to determine whether the company inaccurately stated the market value of installing their residential solar panel systems when applying for stimulus funds. Last week it was revealed that two more companies have been subpoenaed by federal investigators for similar charges relating to improper claims on stiumulus money. The Washington Post reports that the financial records of SolarCity, along with SunRun and Sungevity, have been requested by the Treasury Department's office of the inspector general in order to determine whether more than $500 million in federal grants and tax credits have been claimed falsely.

The money forms part of Obama's $13 billion "1603 program" designed to incentivized clean-energy developers through cash grants.  The three companies in question were by far the largest claimants of funds for residential solar panels, collecting hundred of million of dollars in the past three years. They  are being charged with inflating the market costs of installation in order to claim more money back from the federal government who currently stump up the equivalent of a third of the companies' installations costs. Firms usually install solar panels for approximately $5 per watt of energy and make comfortable profits, yet some firms were charging as much as $7-$8 per watt and claiming costs back from the stimulus program. Jonathan Bass, a spokesman for SolarCity, argues that the company estimates are fair and that the company's costs were often at or below the recommended amount the Treasury Department suggested at the time. Both SunRun and Sungevity have declined to comment on the investigations. 

Lachlan Markay on The Heritage's The Foundry blog reports that all three of the investigated companies boast investors with significant ties to the Obama White House. SolarCity chariman Elon Musk is prominent Obama supporter and SolarCity company officials and investigators are said to have donated an estimated $579,000 to Obama's presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012. Similarly, Sungevity's main financial backer Tom Steyer is an "aggressive activist for more federal environmental regulation and taxpayer backing for green energy companies" as well as a major Obama campaign donor.


NEXT: Team of Dogs Brought in to Comfort Newtown Residents

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  1. OT: I hope these cops learned their lesson. You are never, ever supposed to be cool. If they’d have just beat him to death, they’d have been ok.

    1. Lachlan Markay on The Heritage’s The Foundry blog reports that all three of the investigated companies boast investors with significant ties to the Obama White House.

      No, never!

    2. You got 404’d!

      1. At least he didn’t you it.

        1. Extreme!

    3. Links with breaks don’t work well.

      1. Let’s just try it as is.…..r-1281687/

        1. The real intent to harm was when they left him at Taco Bell.

            1. I worked in a Pizza Hut. I know the terror of which you speak.

              1. How often did ProL come in for a slice or a whole pie?

          1. The deputies and trooper said that Popoca spoke very little English and they had hoped someone at the Taco Bell could interpret for him.

            I guess that’s Mexican food in Delaware, Ohio.

            1. Google indicates there are only three Mexican restaurants. Taco Bell is not indicted as being one of them. Ohio! Woo!

              1. We have an Italian restaurant around the corner from my office. It’s all traditional Italian fare. All the cooks are Mexican. No joke. Foods actually pretty decent.

                1. They shut down the local Chinese buffet for labor violations not too long ago. All the cooks were Mexican illegals. And the food wasn’t half bad.

    4. They were sentenced to a fine of $1,000 each.

      At least the paid a price for the loss of life.

      1. I can tell you that it’s pretty unheard of the an Ohio State Trooper would not take you to jail in that situation or any other situation for that matter.

  2. And we think these friends of the administration weren’t coached when they applied?

  3. Remember, “special interests” are not a problem when Obama cowtows to them. “Crony capitalism” is not a problem when Obama does it. “Rich corporate fatcats” are not a problem when they’re friends of Obama.

    Cue Krugman posting a picture of the sockpuppet.

    1. I wonder what it must feel like to be a partisan and to know deep down that you have absolutely zero integrity, and that you’re OK with that. I hope it feels incredibly shitty, but if it does it isn’t deterring many people.

      1. I like the analogy of that historian in the Jebediah Springfield episode of The Simpsons (Donald Sutherland’s voice?). He realizes in the end that his life’s work has been to study and idolize a murderous criminal, and therefore his life has been somewhat of a joke. But instead of coming clean, he hides the silver tongue of Jebediah, preserving the myth of Springfield’s founder.

        I’d bet many of today’s partisan hacks realize they have no principles and have pointlessly sold out to a TEAM, but if they change now they’d have to admit that much of their existence has been wasted.

        1. The life of a partisan hack is lived inside a closed bubble of partisan reinforcement. They never admit the mendacious pointlessness of their lives, because they are never confronted with it.

      2. When you’re a partisan hack you have people who will back you up when you are wrong. Some will even throw down if they get worked up enough.

        If you say two and two is five, and you’ve got a bunch of goons who will punch anyone in the nose who voices disagreement, two and two might as well equal five.

        Might makes right.

        Does it feel incredibly shitty? To a power seeker it is an orgasm.

  4. Leaving the cronyism issue aside for a moment, this is a terribly designed incentive program.
    Of *course* these companies are going to try to go for as much as they can get away with legally.
    It’s no different than minimizing tax burdens to the limit of the law. Further compounding the issue
    is allowing the companies to self-value the installs. If the Feds insist on these kinds of subsidies
    they either need to audit each install themselves (ha!) or assign fixed subsidies per Wh of power.
    Expecting a company to “play nice” and not try to get the most they can just this side of prison
    is ridiculous. If I were a shareholder I would want nothing less from them.

  5. MarketWatch – WSJ’s version of Yahoo Finance / CNBC – has a columnist “Paul B. Farrell” whom I’ve noted from time to time…

    ..usually in the context of, “jesus, this guy is completely nuts” and “what the fuck is this person doing being paid to comment on *finance and economics*??”, and “holy shit he reminds me of my senile Great Uncle who is still convinced the Soviets are just “playing dead” and that the Internet is a ‘hoax’…”

    His latest Grandpa-Simpson rant?

    Paraphrased = “The Evil Koch Brothers Empire will Collapse Under its own Weight When Forced to Confront the Coming Environmental Apocolypse and Resource-Depletion”

    I mean for fuck’s sake. Its like someone gave Progressive-Alex Jones a suit and tie and said, “pretend this is in the context of ‘economic commentary'”

    He’s like a parody of a parody *we* would do, making fun of progressives totally trapped within the fantasy world of their ideological meta-narratives…

    …. free-market capitalism is in a race, a downhill race fueling the great commodity wars that will define human life and human civilization, a perfect storm of global wars, mass starvation, pandemics, environmental catastrophes, total anarchy, emerging dead ahead

    blah blah blah

    He does this about once a month. A previous example of his ‘unique perspective’…..2012-10-23

    1. Jesus. That reads like someone gave Thomas Malthus a heavy dose of meth and let him loose on a typewriter.

    2. It’s also interesting that he fails to acknowledge that free market capitalism has ENDED commodity wars, global wars, mass starvation and pandemics. Meanwhile, free countries have fewer environmental catastrophes, as evidenced by Chinese and Russian pollution.

      I don’t know what to say about anarchy, except that we didn’t have anarchy before the oil economy, so I don’t know why he’d assume that we’d have some if the oil economy collapsed.

    3. Does he explain how a company sitting on scads of resources is going to be busted by the increasing scarcity (and thus value) of those resources?

      1. “Does he explain how a company sitting on scads of resources is going to be busted by the increasing scarcity”

        ‘Mumble, mumble, profit, mumble, mumble, mean rich folks, mumble’
        Now do you see?

  6. today’s distraction is brought to you by the number 1603. It was necessary to replace the previous distraction of Hillary’s “fall” on the eve of her Benghazi testimony. By tomorrow, we will have forgotten about both.

  7. re: the actual story…

    I find it hard to believe that when the federal government subsidizes a product to encourage consumer uptake that the companies will then overbill the government, the “third party payer”, and artificially inflate the actual product cost.

    If it could happen in Solar energy, what could it possible do to Healthcare or Education??

  8. Sometimes dude you jsut have to roll with it.

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