Ex-Solyndra CEO Receives $6.6 Billion From Biden Administration For Semiconductor Project

The Biden administration will soon send $6.6 billion to a semiconductor project operated by the former CEO of Solyndra — a failed solar energy company at the center of a scandal over government misspending during the Obama administration.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo recently announced that Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC’s Arizona subsidiary, led by former Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison, would receive $6.6 billion to construct a factory in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Washington Free Beacon pointed out that Harrison was the head of Solyndra when the company declared bankruptcy in 2011 upon receiving more than $500 million in loans from the Obama administration.

In a statement, President Joe Biden touted his administration’s plan to fund the project. The company said it would invest an additional $65 million in its manufacturing compound in Arizona, which already has two factories and is currently establishing a third.

“Thanks to the investment, TSMC will also build a third chip factory in Phoenix, increasing its total investment in Arizona to $65 million and creating over 25,000 direct construction and manufacturing jobs, along with thousands of indirect jobs,” the president said.

The funds will come from the CHIPS and Science Act, which the president signed in 2022. Such funding intends to boost U.S. chip manufacturing and challenge China’s dominance of the semiconductor industry.

While speaking to CNBC, Harrison, who has overseen TSMC’s projects in Arizona, said he played a major role in securing the funds.

“We’re in the process of applications for the CHIPS Act funding,” Harrison told the outlet.

In 2021, Harrison joined TSMC Arizona. Since April 2023, he has served as the company’s president. From 2010-2011, he served as CEO of Solyndra.

Under an Obama-era stimulus program, Solyndra garnered over $500 million in loans. During Harrison’s tenure, the company eventually declared bankruptcy and defaulted on the loans, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

In 2011, an investigation ensued, with investigators reportedly seizing Solyndra’s records from Harrison. Despite this, the CEO was never charged.

It was later determined that executives at Solyndra sent misleading information to the Department of Energy (DOE) during loan negotiations in 2009. The company also provided falsehoods “while drawing down loan proceeds.”