Solyndra was one of several companies in which the Department of Energy invested as part of a renewable energy loan program which was in turn part of Obama's stimulus program. Among those companies, it has so far been one of only four failures.
The U.S. government expects to earn $5 billion to $6 billion from these investments, which have also created jobs and helped move the US further towards sustainable energy.
Among the program's successes is Tesla Motors Inc., which paid back its $465 million federal loan nine years early.
Among the myths circulated about Solyndra:
- Myth: when government "picks winners and losers", it's somehow bad
- Reality: Bad for whom? These investments turned a net profit for the US, created jobs, and moved the US closer to independence from fossil fuels.
- Myth: the government picked which companies to support
- Reality: The loan program was open-application.
- Myth: Contributors to Obama or other Democratic campaigns were given preference
- Reality: There's no evidence for this. Loans appear to have been awarded based solely on business plan. “There’s no picking winners and losers -- we’re just open for business and people apply” -- Peter Davidson, DoE loan program director
- Myth: If the government loses money on its investments, that's bad.
- Reality: An important part of the government's job is to spend money that doesn't bring in monetary profit. The gain is in improvements that benefit everyone, improving quality of life. Often these gains do end up resulting in higher tax revenues (due to economic improvement) that do more than pay back the original investment, but that's not always the goal. The goal is, as it says in the Constitution, to "promote the general welfare".
Flies in the Ointment
- Solyndra was the first loan guarantee recipient under the program. 
- Solyndra's "top executives were enthusiastic Obama campaign donors". 
None of this adds up to a scandal, however.
- 2014-11-12 U.S. Expects $5 Billion From Program That Funded Solyndra
- 2012-10-17 Solyndra Lenders Ahead of Government Won’t Recover Fully
- 2011-10-13 Who Besides Solyndra Got Loan Guarantees? by Megan McArdle