At the recent National Clean Energy Summit in Nevada, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz lauded federal loans for green energy projects. “We have done a lot to try to get renewables out there, in fact in [Nevada] six loan guarantees, four in geothermal, one in CSP, and one on the grid… all come together to see real progress on the ground,” said Secretary Moniz.
The loan guarantee programs have garnered significant skepticism and criticism, with much of the criticism focused on the collapse of Solyndra. Some critics have argued against the government acting as venture capitalists and others suggest tax cuts would do more for job creation.
According to the DOE, “Losses to date in the Department’s loan programs represent about 2 percent of the $34 billion portfolio and less than 10 percent of the $10 billion loan loss reserve that Congress set aside to cover expected losses in the programs.” As Secretary Moniz explained earlier this year, “The other 98 percent of the portfolio includes 19 new clean energy power plants that are adding enough solar, wind and geothermal capacity to power a million homes and displace 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year – roughly equal to taking a million cars off the road.”
Are the DOE loan programs working? Should the federal government be providing these loans?