The Democrats on the panel, led by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), responded that the Loan Guarantee Program was rigorously run and was proving to be highly successful, with a failure rate thus far that is far smaller than Congress had expected in its budgeting. They pointed out, as well, that if Abound was an example of Obama playing political favorites, it was an awfully strange one, since the company’s largest private investor was Ivus Group, led by Raymond Debbane, a big contributor to Republicans.
Most strikingly, however, the Democrats played their own China card, again and again, taking a cue from Abound CEO Craig Witsoe, who said the company was doing well with its cadmium-telluride solar panels until the China PV tsunami hit in 2011.
“Abound’s technology and business made solid progress until the second half of 2011 when panel prices dropped by 50 percent in a year due to aggressive price-cutting from Chinese competitors using older crystalline-silicon technology,” Whitsoe testified. “With over $30 billion in reported government subsidies, Chinese panel makers were able to sell below cost and put Abound out of business before we were big enough to pose a real competitive threat to China’s rapidly growing market share.”
Kucinich said the dumping of Chinese PV in the U.S. was the thing that Congress really ought to be spending its time and energy on.
“There’s a real scandal that has been underneath this and that we need to address,” Kucinich said. “That is the systematic, illegal dumping of subsidized,Chinese solar panels in the U.S. We’re attacking our own businesses here, and meanwhile the Chinese are eating our lunch in this market as we’re fighting with each other.”
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