May 16, 2011 - DOE loan guarantee program ramping down

The U.S. Department of Energy's loan guarantee program for renewable energy is preparing to run out of funding and shut down. Last month, I noted how the Department's "1705" loan program uses loan guarantees to help energy projects get lower-cost financing. Through the 1705 program, created and funded through the 2009 federal stimulus act, the Department committed $11 billion to support 19 projects ranging from nuclear power to solar, wind to transmission, biofuels to energy efficiency. Continued funding for the loan guarantee program for 2011 was in doubt during the recent wrangling over the federal budget, but survived the cutting -- through September 30, 2011.

Now, DOE is preparing to close out the 1705 program. With stimulus act funding expiring September 30, 2011, DOE is pushing to get the funding out the door -- and to turn away applicants who are not yet far enough along in the process. Because project construction must also commence by September 30, DOE is screening out applicants it deems unlikely to meet that deadline. While DOE's other loan programs -- the 1703 program for certain clean technologies and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program for fuel-efficient transportation -- will remain in operation, the apparent end of the 1705 program will close the book on an innovative federal incentive for renewable energy development.