The most important factor in determining when to plant a certain type of vegetable in your garden is the “Last Freeze Date” in the spring, and the “First Freeze Date” in the fall for your area. These dates for a given area are based on historical weather data from that area over a 30 year period compiled by the National Climatic Data Center.
The actual dates that the freezing temperatures occurred each year in a given area, during this 30 year period, are averaged together. Probabilities of a freeze occurring are then assigned to these average dates.Let’s look at an example.
Former employees of Solyndra, the shuttered solar company that exhausted half a billion dollars of taxpayer money, said they saw questionable spending by management almost as soon as a federal agency approved a $535 million government-backed loan for the start-up.
A new factory built with public money boasted a gleaming conference room with glass walls that, with the flip of a switch, turned a smoky gray to conceal the room’s occupants. Hastily purchased state-of-the-art equipment ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar, still in its plastic wrap, employees said.
As the $344 million factory went up just down the road from the company’s leased plant in Fremont, Calif., workers watched as pallets of unsold solar panels stacked up in storage. Many wondered: Was the factory needed?
“After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right,” said former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn. “Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy.”
Solyndra’s ability to secure federal backing also made the company eager for more assistance, interviews and records show. Company executives ramped up their Washington lobbying efforts, hiring a former Senate aide to work with the White House and the Energy Department. Within a week of getting a loan guarantee commitment from the Energy Department, Solyndra applied for another, worth $400 million. It never won final approval.
On Friday, company executives are scheduled to appear before a House committee investigating how Solyndra obtained its loan and whether the Obama White House rushed its approval for political reasons. Chief Executive Officer Brian Harrison and Chief Financial Officer Bill Stover were supposed to face a grilling about the company’s spending and collapse, but they announced Tuesday that they would assert their Fifth Amendment rights because of a criminal probe of the company by the Justice Department.