Energy Secretary Steven Chu has made it clear from Day 1 that he intends to get long-delayed loans out the door ASAP. Now he has knocked out one of the obstacles he saw creating drag for the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing incentive program: a set of hard deadlines.
Chu wanted to do away with the deadlines and start reviewing applications on a rolling basis, so requests could be considered and approved as they come in, rather than waiting until the end of each quarter to finalize decisions.
He has triumphed on this one. A day after the Secretary told reporters on Capitol Hill that his agency will begin approving loan guarantees for automakers in a matter of weeks, the DOE announced on Friday that it will “henceforth consider and evaluate substantially complete applications for loans” under the program for alternative-fuel vehicle technology and manufacturing “as and when they are submitted.”
Of the 75 loan applications submitted before the first deadline — Dec. 31, 2008 — 23 were deemed “substantially complete” in January and moved on to the next phase of evaluation (financial and technical viability). With this change in the process, applications submitted in that first round will have no special preference over those submitted this year.
For now, it’s unclear what the positive ramifications might be for companies that met the now-defunct deadline, Bright Automotive CEO John Waters told us earlier today. But for new applicants that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten word from the DOE until end of this month, it opens the possibility of a swifter decision.