Alternative energy and cleantech have been a platform for political jabs and Congressional hearings in Washington over the past year – the Solyndra scandal, Chevrolet Volt post-crash-test battery fires, and Fisker Automotive's Department of Energy grant loan quickly come to mind. The latest one deals with companies committing fraud tied into the federal renewable fuel standard, and it's not pretty.

Oil companies like Sunoco buy renewable identification numbers (or RINs) from biodiesel suppliers to earn credits to meet the renewable fuel rules, but things aren't turning out so well. Last month, for example, Jeffrey David Gunselman, former CEO of Absolute Fuels, got busted by the feds for pilfering more than $50 million in fake RIN credits without producing the biodiesel needed to meet federal standards.

This isn't the first time it's happened. In June, Rodney Hailey of Maryland, who headed Clean Green Fuel LLC, made $9.1 million for selling renewable fuel credits that were not delivered, and is now facing legal consequences. Similar fraud cases have been reported in Texas and Alabama, and Congress is being pressured to address the problem. The Environmental Protection Agency is revising the program to reduce fraud, and has been sued by people that were rooked by Rodney Hailey. For those doing business in alternative energy and cleantech, it's wise to do some background checking.

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