The head of the Energy Department's embattled clean-energy loan program is leaving in what officials called a planned departure. Jonathan Silver, who has headed the loan program since November 2009, is leaving to join a nonpartisan think tank. The program has come under fire from Republicans after Solyndra, a California solar energy company, collapsed despite receiving a federal loan of more than $500 million.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement that Silver informed him in July he was leaving. A key section of the loan program expired last week. President Obama defended the program today, saying officials knew some companies that received government aid were likely to fail. He said the process of awarding the loan to solar panel maker Solyndra was straightforward and based on merits. (Read more Energy Dept. stories.)