DOE Returns to Support for Renewable Energy Companies

The Department of Energy (DOE) is getting ready to give out more of those "terrible taxpayer (read: Solyndra) loan guarantees" to renewable energy companies … this time, under a different program.

The notorious federal program that backed Solyndra expired last September and couldn’t be renewed because of partisan politics. 

Companies that couldn’t meet the September deadline can apply for the new program, §1703. The program is still in force under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

As part of the 2011 budget deal, the DOE has $170 million to subsidize the costly upfront fee (called a credit subsidy) that’s kept most companies away from the program.

The GOP, after torturing the Administration over Solyndra’s bankruptcy, and using it to turn Americans away from clean energy and government support for the industry, has pretty much run out of steam. No matter how hard they’ve tried they haven’t come up with any wrong-doing.

As a result of the relentless attacks, the DOE has became so excruciatingly careful that it’s barely givin out funds for related programs. More than $16 billion in loans authorized five years ago by Congress to develop fuel-efficient vehicles have yet to be disbursed. Some companies are dropping their applications because there are so many new requirements and complain that officials repeatedly alter the terms of the possible loans. Only $8.4 billion of the $25 billion authorized by Congress has been allocated, with just one small project of $50 million gaining approval in the last two years.

Meanwhile, the DOE reports the investor grant program under the Recovery Act (§1603), which expired at the end of last year, resulted in 75,000 renewable energy jobs. Most of the jobs are in the creation of US supply chain and manufacturing, and a smaller share are in project installation, construction and design.

The Recovery Act (Stimulus Bill) allowed developers to receive cash instead of tax credits to partially cover project costs during the financial crisis. 

§1603 provided roughly $9 billion in grants for 23,000 large wind and solar PV projects, supportin $26 billion-$44 billion in economic output over three years, according to "Preliminary Analysis of the Jobs and Economic Impacts of Renewable Energy Projects Supported by the §1603.

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