Examining the Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Loans Golden Parachute Program

Big bonuses to execs at “clean energy” companies that got millions in taxpayer dollars only to go bankrupt? Don’t worry — Joe Biden the Stimulus Sheriff will get to the bottom of this!

Wait, he is at the bottom of this:

President Obama’s Department of Energy helped finance several green energy companies that later fell into bankruptcy — but not before the firms doled out six-figure bonuses and payouts to top executives, a Center for Public Integrity and ABC News investigation found.

Take, for instance, Beacon Power Corp., the second recipient of an Energy Department loan guarantee in 2009. In March 2010, the Massachusetts energy storage company paid cash bonuses of $259,285 to three executives in part due to progress made on the $43 million energy loan, Securities and Exchange Commission records show. Last October, Beacon Power filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

EnerDel, maker of lithium-ion battery systems, landed a $118.5 million energy grant in August 2009. About one-and-a-half years later, Vice President Joe Biden toured a company plant in Indiana and heralded its taxpayer-supported expansion as one of the “100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America.”

Two months after Biden’s visit, EnerDel corporate parent Ener1 paid $725,000 in bonuses to three executives — including $450,000 to then-CEO Charles Gassenheimer, who led Biden on the tour. This January, Ener1 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

At least two other firms that benefited from Energy Department funding — one a $500,000 grant, the other a $535 million loan guarantee — handed out hefty payouts to executives and later went bankrupt.

A Department of Energy spokesperson has the laugh of the day:

“We take our role as stewards of taxpayer dollars very seriously, and as such, we will make clear to loan recipients our view that funds should not be directed toward executive bonuses when the rest of the company is facing financial difficulty.”

The DoE’s vetting and rules process was so stringent that they didn’t make it clear to these companies at the outset that the taxpayer money they were getting was not to go straight into exec bonuses? I can’t believe I ever had a doubt about the intensity of Steven Chu’s due diligence.

Author: Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a chaser of snark. Townhall Media writer/editor. MichelleMalkin.com alum. Bowling novice. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Contact: WriteDoug@Live.com.