(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Solar panel maker Solyndra received a $528 million Energy Department loan in 2009 - and went bankrupt last year. The government's risky investment strategy didn't stop there, as a CBS News investigation has uncovered a pattern of cases of the government pouring your tax dollars into clean energy.
Take Beacon Power -- a green energy storage company. We were surprised to learn exactly what the Energy Department knew before committing $43 million of your tax dollars.
Documents obtained by CBS News show Standard and Poor's had confidentially given the project a dismal outlook of "CCC-plus."
Read the documents
Asked whether he'd put his personal money into Beacon, economist Peter Morici replied, "Not on purpose."
"It's, it is a junk bond," Morici said. "But it's not even a good junk bond. It's well below investment grade."
Was the Energy Department investing tax dollars in something that's not even a good junk bond? Morici says yes.
"This level of bond has about a 70 percent chance of failing in the long term," he said.
In fact, Beacon did go bankrupt two months ago and it's unclear whether taxpayers will get all their money back. And the feds made other loans when public documents indicate they should have known they could be throwing good money after bad.
It's been four months since the FBI raided bankrupt Solyndra. It received a half-billion in tax dollars and became a political lightning rod, with Republicans claiming it was a politically motivated investment. (Continues here)