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CO: Energy Dept. protecting trade secrets of defunct company

By   /   October 8, 2012  /   6 Comments

By Todd Shepherd | Colorado Watchdog

The U.S. Department of Energy is working to protect the trade secrets and the competitive edge…of a company that doesn’t exist anymore.

That’s the only conclusion you can draw from the recent response to a Freedom of Information Act request to the DOE asking for all their testing data on modules produced by Abound Solar.

Green energy’s Abound — what’s the secret?

Abound was among the many green energy companies originally touted as a jobs maker by the Obama administration, with the company eventually securing millions in government backed loans.  In June, Abound was compared to Solyndra when the company announced they would enter Chapter 7 bankruptcy, thereby shuttering their doors forever.  Furthermore, the company has received frequent and vocal criticisms regarding the political connections between wealthy Democrat donor Pat Stryker, an original investor in Abound, and the White House.  Stryker was a bundler for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, and visited the White House three times in the months surrounding the announcement of the DOE loan to Abound.

However, knowing that there were serious questions beginning to emerge about the quality of Abound’s product, Colorado Watchdog filed a request with the National Renewable Energy Lab asking for all benchmark tests of Abound’s product. (Not only is NREL a research lab, it also certifies the efficiency of renewable energy products like solar panels for the DOE).

The DOE and NREL graciously supplied the test pages, with all pertinent data redacted.

“Abound Solar has substantial commercial interest in protecting the release of the redacted confidential module test data within the responsive records, since the public release of this confidential information could be used by competitors to gain an undue advantage over Abound Solar,” the reply letter stated.  “Competitors would be able to use this technical information to undercut Abound Solar in future DOE competitive grant application opportunities.”

Makes sense, except for the fact that Abound isn’t even a company any more, having filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on June 28.  The request for the information was filed in early August, roughly six weeks after Abound’s demise.

We’ll be sending our appeal on the decision to redact the documents later this week.  In the meantime, let’s at least hope the administrators of the Department of Energy’s loan programs know what their FOIA bureaucrats don’t.

Contact Todd Shepherd at [email protected]


Todd formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • wrongheifer

    another of Obama’s losers,…protected by the Obama liars…bu-bye Obama…

  • They would still own patents …. Think before you sensationalize. Romney took million dollar salary, gave bonuses and crashed a BANK!!!! PLEASE!!!! Stop pretending the GOP are angels and all evil comes from DEMS!!! Oh wait the current GOP mantra is all evil come from Obama…. If only it were really that simple. Mitt Romney and people exactly like him are the problem in our nation!! I used to be republican…. I am ASHAMED of what they are doing right now!!

  • If you were REALLY watchdogs for the people of Colorado. you would in fact let us know the trash on the GOP as well!! But you are just adding to the real problem with our government. The truth is slippery at best, and sorry but the GOP tell far more lies right now…. It really does make me ashamed, and this sensational tripe, in the guise of “fact finding” that I have seen on this page is just More of the divisive garbage being used to help the extreme wealthy crush the middle class! Pea and shell game, LOOK HERE < no no ignore that over there, just do not look at that, OH GOD LOOK HERE!! such a lame thing to do to people.

  • Jeannie

    Why are you bad mouthing Obama. Why are you not questioning who has taken advantage of the situation. Look at the facts….is this similar to one of the businesses that Romney took advantage of to increase his profits………

  • Andy

    Missing one big difference. Romney was working with his money and his investors money. Obama is working with our money.

  • liberpublican

    Sorry the facts bother you so much. Thinking is obviously not one of your strong points.