One part of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill that has benefitted wind energy and other sources of renewable energy is a program designed to help clean power projects pay off their loans. Known as the Renewables Loan Guarantee Program, it has already provided $1.481 billion to 10 different projects. In doing so, it’s accelerated those projects’ development and produced new jobs. Unfortunately, the program has also suffered some budget cuts, including a $2 billion deduction in late 2009 and most recently, on August 10th, another $1.5 billion. As a result, the original $6 billion dollar program is now down to $2.5 billion. While there is still a good deal of money left, and the program has already done admirable things, these are significant cuts which will slow down the arrival of clean electricity production in our energy mix and green job growth in our economy. We think these benefits form a strong argument for supporting continuous renewable energy investment.

All is far from lost, though. First of all, Congress has promised to restore the Loan Guarantees funds at a later date; it’s just a question of when they can find enough cash to do so. In the meantime, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and other renewable energy trade associations are hard at work campaigning to get the funds restored as soon as possible. According to a letter they wrote to Senate Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

“Failure to Failure to act on the Treasury Grant Program and other tax incentives or to restore funding to the DOE Loan Guarantee Program will jeopardize the renewable energy industries’ efforts to develop clean electric generation and create tens of thousands of jobs.”

Even though the project has lost funding, it has been strengthened in other ways. The program’s application deadline was originally August 24th 2010, but is now extended to October 5th,  allowing more projects to take a shot at the money. In addition, the Department of Energy recently invited companies that manufacture the parts used in renewable energy projects to apply for the grant as well (in the case of wind energy, these “parts” might include things like turbine blades and generators). All of these changes open the funds to a broader range of applicants.

Even outside the range of this one specific program, the general public policy landscape remains a source of optimism among renewable energy advocates.  The Production Tax Credit (PTC) supporting wind energy development is guaranteed by the stimulus bill to remain in place at least through 2012.  Also, while a national Renewable Energy Standard failed to pass during the last legislative session, there is growing national support for enacting one. In light of this,  government policy toward wind energy looks like it will remain very supportive despite the recent cuts.

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