DOE Looks to the Web to Speed Up Loan Guarantees


Solyndra's Factory Ground-breaking

Accelerating the rate of awards doled out under the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program has been an ongoing theme for the agency under the Obama administration and Energy Secretary Steven Chu. But it remains a work in progress. According to DOE Senior Advisor for Recovery Act Implementation, Matt Rogers, one of the next steps to speed up the process will be bringing more of it onto the web.

Rogers said in a press briefing Wednesday that the LGP, as it’s known, is crunching through 1-2 loan guarantees per month. “Now we have to accelerate that rate,” he said.

Secretary Chu outlined a series of planned reforms early last year, such as using outside partners to help accelerate loan underwriting and replacing hard deadlines with rolling appraisals. Six months ago, the administration named former VC Jonathan Silver to head up the LGP and green car loan program as part of an effort to “strengthen and streamline” the agency’s operations.

One change that LGP expects to implement soon, said Rogers, is bringing more of the application process online and doing away with “some paper technologies we inherited.”

A loan guarantee will typically enable a company to finance projects with a better interest rate and lower costs than would otherwise be available. It serves essentially as promise by the government to back a loan if the company can’t make good on it.

The LGP handles applications for these potentially king-making awards, such as the $535 million guarantee awarded to thin-film solar startup Solyndra last spring and the $1.37 billion guarantee awarded to BrightSource in February.

Rogers explained that the agency is looking to accomplish two basic goals with every project supported under the program: deploy the best technology, and ensure that tax dollars are repaid.

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