Brian Harrison

Post image for Solyndra: ‘I’ll Take the Fifth’

At today’s House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, “From DOE Loan Guarantee to FBI Raid: What Solyndra’s Executives Knew,” the witnesses, Solyndra President and CEO Brian Harrison and Solyndra VP and CFO W.G. Stover, invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to every question asked by Committee members. Harrison and Stover told the committee nothing about what Solyndra’s executives knew.

Nonetheless, the hearing spotlighted information that can only build public support for the Committee’s ongoing investigation.

As part of the hearing record, the Committee released a June 23, 2011 document, “Exceeding Expectations: Solyndra Today,” that makes enthusiastic claims about the company’s progress and prospects that are difficult to reconcile with its decision to file for bankruptcy just nine weeks later:

Solyndra, one of the only volume solar manufacturers in the United States, continues to make excellent progress to the company’s overall annual strategic plan, while meeting the company’s technical, cost and performance milestones. The factory is ramping and Solyndra is hiring employees today, creating jobs at the company, within our primarily domestic supply chain, and through integrators and installers implementing our systems on rooftops in the U.S. and around the world.

Solyndra does not publicly release quarterly results but is on track for this year. The ability to command a slight price premium as a result of substantial differentiation and product benefits continues and our cash production cost per watt is dropping rapidly at pace with the industry.

The Committee also released a July 13, 2011 letter from Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison to Subcommittee Chair Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) extolling the company’s successes such as the growth in revenues from $6 million in 2008 to $140 million in 2010 with revenues expected to double in 2011. It is hard to square this information with the company’s imminent collapse. At a minimum, other more pertinent information was not disclosed.

In addition, the Committee released an email dated september 10, 2011 from Solyndra’s counsel pledging that Harrison would “appear voluntarily and answer the Committee’s questions.” The email references a request, honored by the Committee, to postpone the hearing so that Harrison could concentrate on managing asset sales to minimize taxpayer losses. But then three days ago, Chairman Stearns said in his opening statement, Solyndra’s counsel informed the Committee that Harrison and Stover would decline to answer questions. [click to continue…]