DOE energy loan program turns profitable, goes $30 million in the black
- The much-maligned Department of Energy loan guarantee program that funded solar manufacturer Solyndra and electric vehicle maker Fisker Automotive is now making money for U.S. taxpayers, Reuters reports.
- Interest payments from projects funded by the loans were up to $810 million as of September, above the $780 million in losses from the 2% of DOE investments that did not succeed, according to a report from the Loan Programs Office.
- Further losses are not expected, and many companies will continue paying interest on their loans, ultimately netting up to $6 billion for taxpayers.
The DOE's loan program was created in 2005 during the Bush Administration. Its renewables push came with the Obama Administration's 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Although it took the program three years to break even, the LPO program was more successful that typical venture capital funds that back similarly innovative technology.
The program lost 2.28% of its total committed money, primarily due to the $528 million lost when Solyndra went belly-up.
The program allows DOE to guarantee a loan for between 50% and 70% of an approved project's cost. The borrower must secure a loan from either the U.S. Treasury or a private lender for the balance.
After DOE loans got 5 utility-scale photovoltaic projects into construction, 17 more were funded by private investors.
This year DOE issued $6.5 billion in new loan guarantees for two nuclear reactors and a conditional $150 million commitment to Cape Wind.