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Treasury investigating solar program that turns tax credits into cash grants

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By Reuters
Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 7:20 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department's inspector general is investigating a popular stimulus program that allowed rooftop solar panel projects to turn tax credits into cash grants, according to a regulatory filing.

The Treasury's internal watchdog is looking at how the department managed the program and is searching for “possible misrepresentations” about the fair market value of solar systems that received grants, one large installer of solar panels said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The inspector general issued subpoenas to SolarCity Corp. and other big players in the market, working with the Justice Department's civil division, San Mateo, Calif.-based SolarCity said in its initial public offering filing last week.

The probe could fuel further criticism of President Obama's clean energy initiatives that have come under fire for spending taxpayer money on unproven companies, including Solyndra, a solar panel maker that went bankrupt last year after receiving more than $527 million under a separate government program.

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