(Reuters) – U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Wednesday she was ready to use $ 40 billion in her department’s loan program office, largely untapped for the past four years, to help drive the clean energy transition.
“I’m ready to whip these engines back into shape so we can drive the next generation of innovation and deployment,” Granholm said during the virtual CERAWeek conference. It did not provide details of when the loans would be offered.
Granholm said Jigar Shah, an expert on clean energy finance, will head the department’s loan programs bureau. Shah most recently co-founded and president of Generate Capital, where he helped entrepreneurs accelerate decarbonization. He also funded SunEdison, a solar energy finance company.
“He will help us put together an indomitable portfolio of investments for American taxpayers that will help us fight climate change and create jobs,” said Granholm, who was upheld by the Senate last week with the support of several Republicans from fossil fuel production, said .
“We’re ready to invest in advanced vehicles, carbon capture, advanced reactors and more,” said Granholm, a former Michigan governor who secured federal funding for companies in the state that manufacture electric cars and batteries. She is likely to play a huge role in President Joe Biden’s drive to put the country on a path to fully decarbonize the economy by 2050.
The Department of Energy’s credit bureau was established during the Obama administration with stimulus programs in 2009. It has borrowed money and been repaid by successful companies, including Tesla Inc, but slammed by some Republicans for helping Solyndra, a failed solar company.
Granholm also said the department set up an energy jobs bureau to create jobs for communities “left behind for far too long”, including “color communities living with the toxic legacy of air pollution.”
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy)