Steven Chu to leave as energy secretary U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the Bay Area academic who became President Obama's point man on green jobs and renewable power, announced Friday that he will step down and return to California. [...] it caps a turbulent four years in which the Department of Energy, once a bureaucratic backwater, took center stage in the administration's efforts to revive the economy. A scientist and Nobel Prize winner, Chu in 2009 took charge of an agency that had suddenly been given $36 billion in stimulus money to spend - an amount substantially larger than the department's annual budget. Solyndra problemsHe faced fierce criticism when one of the clean-tech companies funded with that cash, Solyndra, went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving $528 million in government loan guarantees to build a solar panel factory in Fremont. In a letter to staff announcing his departure, he said just 1 percent of the more than 1,300 companies that received Energy Department stimulus funding had gone bankrupt. "Sadly, Secretary Chu's energy policies were the most ideologically driven and uniformly failed energy policies in American history," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, an organization backed by the fossil fuel magnate Koch brothers. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department oversees oil and natural gas drilling on federal land, plans to return to his home state of Colorado in March.