Head of DOE loan office resigns in midst of Solyndra furor

 The head of the Loan Program Office has resigned amid the controversy over Solyndra's bankruptcy .

Story highlights

  • Jonathan Silver was head of Energy Dept.'s Loan Program Office
  • DOE Secretary Steven Chu: He has resigned to take a position in the private sector
  • Republicans say resignation "does not solve the problem"
  • Chu: Loan program supporting "28 projects with a total loan amount of $16 billion"

The head of the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Program Office has resigned amid a fiscal firestorm over the bankruptcy of a company that received a $535 million federal loan, DOE Secretary Steven Chu said.

The loan program's executive director, Jonathan Silver, was planning to leave his post and return to the private sector this fall, Chu said in a written statement.

Silver informed Chu of his intentions in July, "shortly after the fiscal year 2011 budget was completed by Congress and it became clear that no significant new funds were included for the loan program," the energy secretary said.

However, two House Republicans looking into the bankruptcy of the solar energy company Solyndra linked the resignation to the loan.

Approved in May 2010, the loan allowed the company to build a factory in Fremont, California, to produce state-of-the-art solar panels.

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The company filed for bankruptcy in August, laying off 1,100 workers.

Silver testified last month before a House subcommittee about the DOE's handling of the loan, which has been at the center of a fierce political debate over the amount of government subsidies issued to new businesses.

On Thursday, Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida said Silver's decision "does not solve the problem."

"American taxpayers are already on the hook for the half-billion-dollar Solyndra bust -- what other shoes does this administration expect to drop?" the representatives said in a joint statement that went on to criticize President Barack Obama's handling of the issue.

Upton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Stearns heads up the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, which conducted the September hearings in which Silver testified.

Self-described as the "The Financing Force Behind a Clean Energy Economy," the program "is currently supporting 28 projects with a total loan amount of $16 billion," Chu said in the written statement.

CNN has confirmed that Silver will serve as a fellow at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington that focuses on the economy, energy, national security and domestic policy.