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Meet the Obama Administrationā€™s New Clean Energy Loan Man

9:41 AM PST on November 11, 2009

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'tmoving quickly enough on other companies' applications for help. In aletter to congressional leaders last week, the heads of the SolarEnergy Industries Association, the National Hydropower Association andthree other trade groups warned that many projects are in danger ofmissing construction deadlines, partly because of what they said weredelays 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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