Meet the Obama Administration’s New Clean Energy Loan Man

The Department of Energy (DoE) yesterday chose venture capitalist Jonathan Silver to head up its loan programs, which include $25 billion in loan guarantees for low-emissions cars and $32 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects.

234725_0_0_1.jpgJonathan Silver (Photo: DC Business Journal)

Silver may have his work cut out for him on the latter program. While the auto industry loans have been coming at a more than healthy clip in recent months, three renewable energy companies have received a total of less than $600 million from the $32 billion pot for green power.

And as the Wall Street Journal notes, renewables industries aren’t happy about the slow pace:

Some renewable-energy advocates have complained that the agency isn’t
moving quickly enough on other companies’ applications for help. In a
letter to congressional leaders last week, the heads of the Solar
Energy Industries Association, the National Hydropower Association and
three other trade groups warned that many projects are in danger of
missing construction deadlines, partly because of what they said were
delays in implementing the loan-guarantee program.

The recent letter comes after a May missive [PDF] from solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, and nuclear producers that lamented the slow pace of loan approvals and requested multiple changes to the process. The first solar company to win a DoE loan this year had to spend three years and $10 million before winning a final deal from the government.

In response to the concerns, Energy Secretary Steven Chu promised to speed up the process — and Silver’s appointment appears to be the first step in that effort.

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