Energy Secretary Chu to resign, still unapologetic about Solyndra
Energy Secretary Steven Chu testifies at a Nov. 17, 2011 House hearing about his agency's $535 million loan guarantee to now-defunct Solyndra.
How will you remember Secretary of Energy Steven Chu? As somebody who helped the wind and solar power industries double their production of electricity in the U.S. over the past four years, or as someone who threw away hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money on risky bets like Solyndra?
That's the mixed legacy Chu leaves behind as the Nobel Prize-winning physicist steps down from his Cabinet post and returns to academia. Chu today announced his plans to resign once his successor his confirmed.
His boss, President Barack Obama, praised Chu and thanked him for his service.
"Steve brought to the Energy Department a unique understanding of both the urgent challenge presented by climate change and the tremendous opportunity that clean energy represents for our economy," Obama said.
Chu "put our country on a path to win the global race for clean energy jobs" and "expanded support for our brightest engineers and entrepreneurs as they pursue groundbreaking innovations that could transform our energy future," Obama said.
Entrepreneurs are by definition risk-takers, so some of their gambles aren't going to work out. Chu's problem was that he put taxpayers on the hook for some of these gambles, most notably by guaranteeing a $535 million loan for Solyndra, a now-bankrupt solar power manufacturer.
Republicans turned this bad loan, paid for with economic stimulus funds, into a major controversy. The government, they maintained, should leave bets on individual companies to venture capitalists. It didn't help that one of Solyndra's biggest private-sector backers was a major donor to Obama's presidential campaign.
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