U.S. energy secretary ready to loan $40 billion to boost clean energy

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Wednesday she is ready to use $40 billion in her department’s loan program office that went unused in the last four years to boost the transition to clean energy.

“I am ready to rev those engines back up so that we can spur the next generation of innovation and deployment,” Granholm said during the virtually-held CERAWeek conference. She did not offer details on how the loans would be offered.

Granholm said Jigar Shah, an expert in clean energy finance, will head the department’s loan programs office. Shah was most recently co-founder and president of Generate Capital, were he helped entrepreneurs speed decarbonization. He also financed SunEdison, a solar energy financing company.

“He’s going to help us put together an indomitable portfolio of investments for American taxpayers, that will help us tackle climate change and create jobs,” said Granholm, who was confirmed by the Senate last week, with support from several Republicans from fossil fuel producing states.

“We’re ready to invest in advanced vehicles, carbon capture, advanced reactors, and so much more,” Granholm said.

The Energy Department’s loans office was founded with stimulus funding in 2009 during the Obama administration. It has loaned money and been paid back by successful businesses, including Tesla Inc, but has been slammed by some Republicans for support of Solyndra, a failed solar company.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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