Photo: U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm; Source: Department of Energy

U.S. Energy Secretary readies $40 billion in loans to boost clean energy

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will reactivate her department’s loan program office to boost the transition to clean energy.

According to a Reuters article, the loan program went mostly unused in the last four years and has more than $40 billion in funds.

Granholm said on Wednesday during the virtually-held CERAWeek conference that she was “ready to rev those engines back up so that we can spur the next generation of innovation and deployment”. At the time, she did not offer details on when the loans would be offered.

Granholm added that Jigar Shah, an expert in clean energy finance, would head the department’s loan programs office. Shah was most recently co-founder and president of Generate Capital, where he helped entrepreneurs speed decarbonization. He also founded SunEdison, a solar energy financing company.

He’s going to help us put together an indomitable portfolio of investments for American taxpayers, that will help us tackle climate change and create jobs. We’re ready to invest in advanced vehicles, carbon capture, advanced reactors, and so much more”.

She added that the department created an office of energy jobs to create jobs for communities “left behind for far too long” including “communities of colour living with the toxic legacy of air pollution”.

The U.S. Energy Department loans office was founded with stimulus funding in 2009 during the Obama administration. It has issued more than $35 billion in loans and loan guarantees and been paid back by companies, including Tesla. But some Republicans have slammed it for a $535 million loan to Solyndra, a failed solar company.

Granholm was confirmed by the Senate last week and was sworn in by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. She even got support from several Republicans from fossil fuel-producing states.

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The current U.S. Energy Secretary was previously a former governor of Michigan who secured federal funding for companies in the state to make electric cars and batteries. She also is a supporter of President Joe Biden’s push to put the country on a path to fully decarbonize the economy by 2050.