| WASHINGTON, March 28
WASHINGTON, March 28 The U.S. Energy Department
will soon issue a plan to offer loan aid for renewable energy
projects, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Friday, doubling
down on investments that have drawn intense criticism over past
government-backed business flops.
A department loan program funded by the 2009 economic
stimulus law that backed solar, wind and geothermal projects was
widely attacked by Republicans after the high-profile failure of
solar panel manufacturer Solyndra.
Despite the bankruptcy of Solyndra and other recipients of
department funds, the Obama administration has stressed that
most of its energy investments have been successful, refusing to
bow to calls to scrap its remaining loan programs.
"We will have another call in the loan program for
renewables and efficiency in the not-too-distant future," Moniz
said at a policy forum for the American Council on Renewable
He did not specify how much loan aid would be offered or
specify the type of projects the department would seek to fund.
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.
Moniz pointed to the success of utility-scale solar power
plants backed by the department through the stimulus package as
an example of what the administration hopes to continue to
Solar power plants are now being built in the United States
by private companies without federal loan aid.
"We want to fund some of the first movers that push the
technology out there and then have the private sector expand
it," Moniz said.
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 energy market.
A 2005 law established a multi-billion dollar Energy
Department loan program to help finance ground-breaking energy
technologies. The proposed fossil fuel project loans would be
funded under this long-stalled measure and the renewable energy
projects likely would be, as well.
Loan aid through the program has been hampered by an arduous
application process and stringent conditions for approval. The
department has pledged with its latest loan proposals to end the
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Dan Grebler)