Thursday, March 26, 2009

DOE Gets In the Act

CNET has a great article about how the Energy Department has caught the stimulus bug. Not content to let Tresury and the Fed have all the fun, DOE is stepping up its efforts to inject cash into the system by making loans directly to start-ups and other companies involved in energy-related research and manufacturing.

Specifically, DOE just made a $535 million loan to Solyndra, a company that makes rooftop solar arrays, in what CNET is calling the first such loan made by the Department in four years.

According to CNET:

"Because of the troubled credit markets, the DOE program has become the "provider of last resort" to companies that need financing to expand and build manufacturing plants, said venture capital investor Paul Holland of Foundation Capital, who was in Washington this week at a meeting of energy professionals at the White House.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has revamped the DOE's loan-vetting process to break the logjam of these loans, which many high-profile green-tech start-ups such as Tesla Motors and battery maker A123 Systems have applied for. Meanwhile, the government's economic stimulus plan calls for $1.6 billion for research through the national laboratories and for investments to bulk up and modernize the transmission grid to transport solar and wind power.

In anticipation of a big inflow of money, green business people have reported spending a lot of time in Washington, D.C. Everyone--from small start-ups to established wind project developers--is hiring lobbyists to influence policy."