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Fred Upton-Backed United Solar Ovonic Files For Bankruptcy

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 02/15/12 05:28 PM ET  |  Updated: 02/15/12 05:39 PM ET

Fred Upton United Solar Ovonic
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) delivers opening remarks during a hearing on Capitol Hill March 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has been among the most vociferous opponents of the Obama administration's energy policies. On Tuesday, he stood on the other side of a failed solar proposition.

United Solar Ovonic (USO) -- a unit of Michigan-based solar-panel producer Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) -- has announced its plans to file for bankruptcy.

The Washington Post noted back in November that the veteran congressman was a proponent of Energy Department loans for USO -- dating back to a December 2009 letter sent by Michigan lawmakers pressing for guarantees under President Barack Obama's stimulus plan.

While USO loans were never approved, Upton's vision will not last, as the Detroit Free Press reported that part of ECD's bankruptcy includes the sale of USO's assets.

Despite pushing for loans to USO, Upton has been one of the harshest critics of the Obama administration for extending $535 million in loan guarantees to Solyndra, the solar energy company that went bankrupt last September. During a Nov. 17 hearing, the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman blasted Energy Secretary Steven Chu for missing signs that the company was in poor health.

"The number of red flags about Solyndra that were raised along the way -- many from within DOE -- and either ignored or minimized by senior officials is astonishing," Upton told Chu.

On Wednesday, the Energy Committee's subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations announced it would consider subpoenaing five White House staffers as part of its probe into the administration's role in granting the loan guarantees to Solyndra.

Upton was not the only Republican to extend a vote of confidence toward United Solar Ovonic. Back on Feb. 20, 2006, President George W. Bush toured the company's Auburn Hills, Mich., facility, touting the need for the federal government to invest in energy-efficient technologies:

"The role of the government at this point is to continue to spend research dollars, to help push technologies forward; is to get these technologies to be even more competitive in the marketplace. And I'm calling on Congress to join us on this most important energy initiative. As most folks know, there's a lot of needless politics in Washington, D.C. There's a lot of finger pointing and a lot of zero-sum attitude amongst the people up there. And of all the issues, becoming less dependent on foreign sources of energy is an issue that we ought to be able to unite, and show the American people we can work together to help advance the technologies that will change the world in which we live."

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