Washington – As part of its agenda to implement renewable energy systems, the administration of US President Joe Biden will reactivate a Department of Energy program that provided billions of dollars in loan guarantees to companies such as electric car maker Tesla and the failed solar company Solyndra, said Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy.
The loan program helped launch the first utility-scale wind and solar plants as part of former President Barack Obama’s administration’s efforts to create “green jobs,” but the program was largely dormant under former President Donald Trump.
The initiative also fueled Tesla’s efforts to become an electric vehicle giant, but failed with a major loan guarantee to Solyndra, a California solar company that collapsed shortly after receiving federal funding a decade ago, costing them to taxpayers more than $ 500 million.RELATED
Republicans and other critics cite Solyndra as an example of overspending under former President Obama’s stimulus program, and loan guarantees have dried up in recent years. The Department of Energy provided $ 12 billion in guarantees to the Vogtle nuclear power station in Georgia, but few additional loans were offered during the Trump administration.
That is about to change, radically, Granholm noted.
During an interview with The Associated Press, Granholm said that up to $ 40 billion in guarantees will be available for a range of renewable energy projects, including wind, solar and hydro, advanced vehicles, geothermal and even nuclear.
“It has to be clean. That’s it, ”he said. “And when I say clean, I mean technologies that are under investigation in the laboratory,” such as projects to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions, the so-called green hydrogen fuel and other energy sources, the secretary added.
The program will be overseen by Jigar Shah, an entrepreneur in the renewable energy industry with years of experience who helped promote solar power in the United States.
While Republicans are likely to focus on trying to avoid repeating Solyndra, Granholm, a former Michigan governor, noted that Tesla is a better example. Company founder Elon Musk repaid the loan in full years ahead of schedule, and now Tesla is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electric vehicles and battery storage.
“I mean, obviously that happened two governments ago,” he said, referring to Solyndra, who filed for bankruptcy in 2011. “We have learned a lot since then. People understand that when you invest in a technology that is new, you are going to have some that will not be successful. “
However, the overall loan program has returned more than $ 500 million to taxpayers, from “people who paid off their loans with interest,” Granholm noted.