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Funding & Incentives

U.S. bill stopping the loan guarantee program goes through committee

Legislation that will phase out the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program, called the "No More Solyndras Act," has passed the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power at the United States House of Representatives.

Winning by a 14-6 vote, the measure, which was authored following the alleged mismanagement of government support for the company Solyndra, is now set to move to the full committee for consideration, which could come as early as next week.

"The legislation provides greater loan guarantee transparency and prohibits D.O.E. from restructuring the terms of any loan guarantee without Treasury consultation," a committee press release stated. "Like current law, the act also forbids the subordination of U.S. taxpayers' dollars to any other investors."

The latter is in reference to a Department of Energy move which allegedly prioritized Solyndra's wealthy investors in the restructuring of the solar company's $535 million loan guarantee. The bill hopes to provide taxpayers "strong new protections" for any pending applications.

But the Solar Energy Industries Association said the bill is an act of throwing the baby out with the bathwater instead of attempting to improve the loan guarantee program.

"The loan program has been utilized on a bipartisan basis to leverage private capital to promote transportation, health care, education, housing and energy infrastructure policies," said SEIA chief executive Rhone Resch. "The provision in the discussion draft that sunsets D.O.E.'s loan program would hinder our nation's ability to develop innovative energy infrastructure projects."

He added that though Solyndra had its problems, the loan guarantee program has yielded notable successes. For example, the program is now reportedly financing the construction of 11 utility-scale solar power plants in the Southwest that will produce 2,700 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 630,000 homes.

"These are financially sound projects with guaranteed revenue streams," Mr. Resch said. He says the group is still willing to work with congress and the administration for the improvement of the loan guarantee program. – EcoSeed Staff

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