SolarCity, a company which was acquired by the Tesla last fall, has finally agreed to pay the U.S. Treasury a $29.5 million settlement over lying to the government about their financial health.
The solar panel manufacturer, SolarCity, has finally decided to settle with the federal government over allegations that it falsified and misstated its financial health in order to receive massive stimulus money after the 2008 housing crash. The Justice Department announced the settlement last Friday.
The Congress and the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General have spent the last five years investigating the SolarCity – the largest distributor of the residential solar panels in the United States – alongside other renewable energy companies who used similar schemes to claim large sums of taxpayer money.
The Justice Department investigations were trying to determine by what degree these renewable energy companies inflated the costs for providing the products so that they could cash in on stimulus funding.
“This program expired but this settlement demonstrates that the government will still hold accountable those who sought to take improper advantage of government programs at the expense of American taxpayers,” said the Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler in a statement.
The federal investigations kept their focus on the Section 1603 program, which was created by Obama and his administration to increase the solar energy industry by simply subsidizing on the installation costs. The program itself provided the companies with solar solutions like SolarCity huge federal grant money to compensate the 30% of the installation cost to acquire a solar panel system.
SolarCity has already denied the charges against it and says that they never over-inflated the costs and instead sued the U.S. Government claiming that the Government owed them more money. The company also agreed upon letting go of its charges against the U.S. as a part of the settlement agreement. A spokesperson from the SolarCity said that the projects of SolarCity were always valued correctly, and the “methods used to value its projects were sound.”
“It’s telling that after a five-year investigation, the government did not bring any lawsuit accusing SolarCity of any wrongdoing of any kind, and that it has agreed to drop all its claims upon SolarCity” he said in a statement.
“With its expert discredited, and a trial of SolarCity’s claims approaching, the government agreed to drop its case in exchange for a settlement,” the spokesperson further added.
In 2015, the LA Times estemeated that Elon Musk’s various companies have benefited from almost $4.9 billion in state and federal “green” tax subsidies.
Musk in early June resigned from the presidential business advisory councils he sat on after President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement.