Despite disproportionate press coverage of Solyndra, American renewable energy is actually thriving, with many success stories demonstrating the value of continuing the Loan Guarantee Program. For example, in Arizona, First Solar has partnered with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and NRG Systems to finance and build a 290-MW solar power plant. They are well ahead of schedule, with 200 MW already installed. This project is supported by a $967 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy and will soon be providing clean, renewable electricity for the taxpayers who helped fund it.
Opponents’ claims that renewables are failing to advance, even with government support, are simply incorrect. Solar power grew by more than 100% last year, and major investors have credited the Loan Guarantee Program with making private investment in solar more 'bankable.' Additionally, 35% of all new electricity on the grid since 2007 came from wind power. With billions of dollars in private capital being invested in renewables this year alone, thousands of new jobs are being created in clean energy construction, manufacturing, shipping and research every day.
No, the Loan Guarantee Program is not perfect, and Congress is right to look for ways to improve government investment in promising renewable energy technologies. But the ‘No More Solyndras’ Act in its current form does not achieve this. Instead, like a bull in a china shop, the current bill destroys a program that can ultimately promote American ingenuity, create jobs and offer a more diverse energy supply for years to come.
Our industry is strong and growing. We stand ready to work with the Committee on targeted, realistic, bipartisan and constructive reforms that will make the Loan Guarantee Program more effective and protect taxpayer investments.
McGinn, a retired vice admiral, is president of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE)