WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation this week that would establish a new independent agency to spearhead government clean energy investments.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman and ranking member Lisa Murkowski, would establish a Clean Energy Deployment Administration within the Energy Department.
The new agency would provide various forms of credit including loans and loan guarantees to support environmentally friendly technologies that diversify the nation’s energy supply and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. A clean energy investment fund created from collected payments and fees would be used to start the agency.
“New clean energy technologies will be needed to reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels and lower the amount of greenhouse gases that our nation emits every day,” said Bingaman, a Democrat, in a statement.
“This legislation is a bipartisan effort to position the U.S. to lead the development and deployment of clean energy technologies by ensuring that commercial financing for these technologies is readily available for the future,” he said.
The main goal of the agency is to back technologies that are deemed “too risky” by private companies.
The Energy Department is currently dealing with a backlog of applications for clean energy loan guarantees authorized by a 2005 law, offering its first loan guarantee under the program just about two months ago.
In addition to the billions of dollars authorized under the 2005 law, the department was also allocated $6 billion for clean energy and transmission loan guarantees in the stimulus package.
Murkowski, a Republican, applauded the bill as a way to address climate change “without imposing new mandates or regulatory burdens.”
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee is currently considering a host of measures aimed at increasing U.S. renewable energy production and energy efficiency. Bingaman is hoping to have a comprehensive energy package approved by the panel by the Memorial Day holiday on May 25.
Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker