Like the internet and space technology, government investment provides the seed money in highly speculative areas that eventually attract venture capital. While the same policies led to Solyndra, the fact is that Tesla's technology probably has a far greater upside potential for our economy than Solyndra's downside, which is a fixed amount. By the way, I saw the Tesla in a mall in White Plains. It's pricey, but it's quite a beautiful auto. Tesla Motors fully repays $465 million federal loan nine years early - San Jose Mercury News PALO ALTO -- In a huge boost for the Obama Administration and clean-energy firms, electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors (TSLA) announced Wednesday that it has paid back its $465 million government loan in full and nine years early. The Department of Energy oversees $34 billion in taxpayer-funded loans for clean energy and other projects, but Tesla is the only United States car company in the vast portfolio of 33 projects to pay back its loan so far. The loan program faced fierce partisan fire in the wake of the high-profile 2011 bankruptcy of Fremont solar manufacturer Solyndra, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Tesla a "loser" in a presidential debate last fall. ... "Federal investment in any innovative clean energy application carries risk, but, as Tesla has demonstrated, it can also create jobs, keep us a world leader in clean energy development, and provide a return on investment to taxpayers," Eshoo said. "As America faces spiking gas prices and extreme weather conditions, clean energy projects continue to be vital to our nation's economic and environmental future."