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HomeloansSen. Barrasso wants watchdog probe of 'green' Energy loans

Sen. Barrasso wants watchdog probe of ‘green’ Energy loans

Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is calling on the Energy Department’s inspector general to probe whether the agency’s chief loan officer has shown favoritism to so-called “green” energy companies linked to a trade association he founded before assuming his current post.
Barrasso, 71, said he was “urgently calling for a comprehensive investigation” into the Loan Programs Office (LPO) and its director, Jigar Shah, citing concerns that the office “has been turned into a profit center” for a private trade association called the Cleantech Leaders Roundtable (CTLR), according to a Wednesday missive sent to Energy IG Teri Donaldson and obtained by The Post.
Shah founded the renewable energy association in 2017 and served as its president until March 2021, when he was appointed to dole out $400 billion in loans at the Department of Energy under President Biden.
4 Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is calling on the Energy Department’s inspector general to probe whether its chief loan officer has shown favoritism to “green” energy. Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
4 Director Jigar Shah’s Loan Programs Office “has been turned into a profit center” for a private trade association called the Cleantech Leaders Roundtable (CTLR), Barrasso said. Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
Shah has maintained in previous congressional testimony that he has “no role to play whatsoever in choosing who gets a loan,” but Barrasso believes the appointee has clearly violated the Biden ethics pledge’s so-called “revolving door” ban.
During Shah’s tenure, the office has “green”-lit loans for companies connected to Cleantech, including a $3 billion partial loan guarantee to the solar firm Sunnova, which has allegedly scammed elderly dementia patients out of tens of thousands of dollars, reports show.
A board member of Sunnova, Anne Slaughter Andrew, was also serving concurrently on Cleantech’s board when the loan was awarded, Barrasso noted in his letter, but has since left that position.
4 Shah has “green”-lighted loans for companies connected to Cleantech, including a $3 billion partial loan guarantee for the solar firm Sunnova, which allegedly scammed elderly dementia patients. Fox News
That departure occurred after Barrasso and House Energy Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) inquired about her dual roles.
On Dec. 7, Shah wrote to Barrasso that he did “not individually choose which entities are issued a loan or loan guarantee by the Department” and had been “unaffiliated” with Cleantech since taking office, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Post.
“New evidence starkly contradicts Director Shah’s claims of disassociation from CTLR,” Barrasso rebutted in his letter to Donaldson, which pointed out that the loan czar was featured on the trade association’s website as “board president emeritus” as late as March 2023.
4 The Wyoming Republican asked the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General to determine whether Shah had conflicts of interest related to his trade group. Getty Images
“Director Shah’s impact within the LPO extends beyond direct involvement with loan approvals,” Barrasso went on. “As he himself notes in his December 7th letter, his influence is more nuanced, subtly guiding the direction of the LPO. This indirect yet significant sway in LPO activities underscores his integral contribution to the office’s strategic operations.”
Shah’s “sway” is further proven by his status as a “titan” on Time magazine’s Most Influential Climate Leaders in Business 2023 list, as well as the praise heaped on him by Cleantech members, Barrasso added.
The Wyoming Republican asked Donaldson to determine whether Shah had conflicts of interest related to his trade group, whether he improperly awarded any loans or whether there were discrepancies in his account of his Cleantech affiliation.
Barrasso also asked for the watchdog office to determine whether Andrew had conflicts of interest related to the Sunnova loan.
“An investigation is critical to ensure the LPO operates with the highest standards of integrity, impartiality, and transparency,” he said in the letter, a copy of which was also sent to Susan Beard, the Energy Department’s designated ethics official.

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