Voters have been bombarded with attacks and stats about the failure of clean energy companies funded by the government. Here are the facts: tens of billions of dollars spent, about $831 million to bankrupt companies.
Voters have already heard a lot about President Barack Obama's use of taxpayer money to fund green energy companies under the $787 billion stimulus law -- especially those that went bankrupt.
Yet for all the angst over the failure of the Solyndra solar manufacturer, the facts surrounding Obama's loans and grants for renewable energy manufacturing offer a picture that blends general success with a few noteworthy, expensive failures.
Here's what is known so far. Of the more than 1,300 companies that got billions of dollars in loans and grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, just five -- less than 1 percent -- have formally declared bankruptcy. Several more are currently struggling financially.
Those that have gone bankrupt received some big money, but the government expects to recover millions of dollars from acquisitions and asset sales. Still, taxpayers are poised to lose hundreds of millions in loan money, primarily because of Solyndra, the California solar firm that Obama visited in 2010.
Overall, the department committed $1.34 billion and paid out about $831 million to the five companies.
The biggest sum likely to be lost could be the $528 million that went to Solyndra from a $535 million loan guarantee approved in 2009, the first renewable energy loan approved by the Obama administration.
The company's bankruptcy last year sparked two contentious congressional investigations by House Republicans.
The final repayment to taxpayers is expected to be minimal, but won't be known until after a likely appeal by the government of Solyndra's bankruptcy plan that allows two private equity funds to claim tax credits stemming from the failure.
The other companies represent less dramatic failures.
The most recent bankruptcy, electric car maker A123 Systems, is a good example of the complexities of the loans and grants made by the administration.
It won a $249 million grant to set up two factories in Michigan, which were supported by the entire Michigan delegation, including one of the Republican lawmakers who investigated Solyndra, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton.
But A123 drew only slightly more than half, $132 million, before announcing last week that it would restructure under bankruptcy and sell its automotive business to Johnson Controls, which also got Energy Department funding.
Johnson Controls put up $72.5 million to keep the factories running and jobs intact during the bankruptcy proceedings. The Energy Department said it would evaluate the rest of the grant money based on future talks with the company.
Even more complicated is the story of another electric car battery maker, Ener1, which declared bankruptcy last February. Its EnerDel unit -- which did not go bankrupt -- won a $118.5 million grant for two factories in the Indianapolis area, of which it has drawn about $62 million.
The company had previously won funding from the George W. Bush administration and had the backing of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.
It emerged from bankruptcy last March as a privately-held company. The company's restructuring did not affect the EnerDel production.
In the final two cases, taxpayers can expect to get back much, though not all, of the money they loaned companies.
Colorado-based Abound Solar drew about $70 million of its $400 million loan guarantee before the Energy Department stopped payments last year over concerns about its performance. The department expects to recover about between 85 percent and 90 percent of the loan following its bankruptcy last June.
Energy storage company Beacon Power, which got a $43 million loan from the department, drew $39 million before its bankruptcy in October of last year. Of that, new owners of the Massachusetts company are expected to pay back about $27 million to the government.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a law passed by Congress in 2009 that President Obama encouraged in hopes of jumpstarting a stagnant economy by spending $840 billion on projects designed to put people back to work.
Inspectors general are the independent watchdogs inside federal agencies charged with rooting out waste, fraud, abuse and corruption in government spending programs.