Repeal Fed’s Loan Guarantee Program.

DFN: Back in Feb. 2011, House of Representatives voted to curtail the Loan Guarantee program which was part of the Economic Stimulus package. A lot of companies saw this as an opportunity to get into Solar, while solar’s economics have improved, the technology still has a long ways to go before its viable on its own merits. This is one of those cases where the Federal Government is ‘leading’ the way to alternate forms of energy. It would be a shame to reverse the previous good decision. There are just other elements which go into good decisions, not just economics.

CEOs call on Congress to preserve DOE loan guarantees for renewables projects
By Kathleen Hart

The CEOs of 34 renewable energy companies sent a letter to congressional leaders March 28 asking them to support funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program to preserve billions of dollars of private sector clean energy investments.

"The projects for which our companies have applied β€” all of which are ready to begin construction between now and September 30th of this year β€” represent over $13.3 billion of investment in 28 states and will generate 15,600 construction jobs and 10,200 permanent operating jobs as well as thousands of additional jobs for equipment and services provided by suppliers," the CEOs of the solar, wind, geothermal and biomass companies wrote. The letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Unless a full-year continuing resolution protects funding for the program, "our economy could sacrifice a generation of our best clean technology opportunities β€” delivering a devastating blow to the U.S. renewable energy industry," the executives said. "Longer-term, future projects that will seek private sector lending once they are proven commercially with the help of the loan guarantee program would be jeopardized, damaging U.S. competitiveness and domestic manufacturing and a supply chain that is dependent on the large-scale deployment of renewable projects in the U.S."

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., on Feb. 9 proposed deep spending cuts in energy programs in a continuing resolution bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. The measure called for cutting DOE loan guarantee authority by $1.4 billion.

Without the loan guarantee program, the CEOs argued, companies will be unable to begin construction of major commercial renewable energy projects and America’s efforts to compete with China, Germany and other nations in the clean technology marketplace will be undermined. In addition to continuing funding for Section 1705 and Section 1703 of the DOE’s renewable energy loan guarantee programs, the CEOs asked Congress to support program changes that would allow viable Section 1705 project applications to transfer into the Section 1703 program.

"The loan guarantee program is a win-win-win for taxpayers, American clean technology and the communities and states where these investments are being made," the CEOs claimed. "The program’s real costs are paid for by the companies that submit applications, and each federal dollar of loan guarantees leverages $13 in private capital investment."

This program has already committed more than $26 billion in loans and loan guarantees to projects representing $42 billion in investment in the U.S. economy, the executives said. "These investments represent an estimated 58,000 direct and indirect jobs across 19 states. Projects still in the pipeline for approval that would be killed or put at risk by the proposal in H.R. 1 to take away the funding for the program represent an additional $24 billion in near-term investment in America’s energy infrastructure that would put another 35,000 Americans to work in good, high paying jobs."

Companies whose chief executives signed the letter include BrightSource Energy Inc., First Solar Inc., Pattern Energy Group LP, Sea Breeze Power Corp. and U.S. Geothermal Inc.

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