The budget of the Ministry of Energy finances the national grid of 17 national research laboratories and helps companies to develop and commercialize new technologies. His loan program currently has $ 40 billion unspent funds the agency can use to advance its clean energy agenda, and it has launched a new Office of Energy Jobs to coordinate government efforts to help workers in the fossil fuel industry who are losing their jobs. employment to find a new job in the green energy industry.
Granholm said the loans, which under former President Barack Obama were used to fund clean energy start-ups, would now be focused on accelerating the deployment of clean energy sources to meet Biden’s goal. eliminate carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035.
“We know that the loan program office has been criticized for being difficult to access, especially by small businesses, and it is also, by definition, narrower than what would be useful if you really wanted to focus on deployment. And it’s expensive for people applying, “she said.” This stuff should be addressed in order to make it really effective. “
This effort will be led by clean energy entrepreneur Jigar Shah, who Granholm announced earlier Wednesday would serve as director of the ministry’s loan programs office.
Although largely ignored during the Trump administration, the loan program was a central part of the Obama administration’s stimulus efforts in 2009, but it became a political target after the collapse of solar technology company Solyndra and the defaults on over $ 500 million in federal loans.
The GOP has spent more than a decade targeting the program, and Sen. Jean Barrasso (R-Wyo.), The top Republican on the energy committee, referenced Solyndra during the confimration of Granholm vote last week – despite the success of the loan program in generating a net profit for the federal treasury.
Granholm said the federal government generated $ 500 million in net revenue from the program, but acknowledged it could be more effective. When you invest in a startup technology, there are bound to be “winners, losers,” she said, but hopefully “you have more of them making money for the government.”
She also cited the role essential minerals will play in securing a national supply chain for the clean energy sector – a message the administration hopes to resonate with Republicans who have called for support for the sector. ‘mining industry.
“For places like Wyoming, where below them [there are] some minerals that are very critical for the production of batteries, for electric vehicles, for example, we should extract from them and create our own supply responsibly instead of relying on our economic adversaries who have in their economic interest to prevent others country to have access, to accumulate supply, ”said Granholm. “It’s another kind of clean energy carrier that we can help support, and I hope we will help support.”