WASHINGTON, April 16 The U.S. Energy Department
on Wednesday unveiled a plan to offer up to $4 billion in loan
aid to renewable energy projects, opening up another round of
funding for a program that faced harsh political attacks over
past government-backed failures.
The draft plan would provide loan guarantees for innovative
projects that limit or avoid greenhouse gas emissions.
It will specifically focus on advanced electric grid
technology and storage, biofuels that can be used in
conventional vehicles, energy from waste products and energy
This latest loan offering follows a round of funding from
the 2009 economic stimulus that backed solar, wind and
geothermal projects, including now bankrupt solar panel
Despite the high-profile collapse of Solyndra, the Obama
administration has stressed that most of its energy investments
have done well and it credits the program with helping the U.S.
solar industry go from panels on the roof of a house to
industrial-scale power plants.
"We want to replicate that success by focusing on
technologies that are on the edge of commercial-scale deployment
today," Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement.
The department issued a plan last year to offer up to $8
billion in loan assistance for fossil fuel projects that reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.
No loan guarantees have been issued under that proposal yet.
Critics of the loan program have accused the administration
of favoring political allies. They argue that the government
should not be picking winners and losers in the private sector.
A 2005 law established the multibillion dollar Energy
Department loan program to help finance ground-breaking energy
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)