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Energy Dept to restart Obama-era loans to renewable energy companies

Energy Dept to restart Obama-era loans to renewable energy companies

Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Congress returns; infrastructure takes center stage Sunday shows - Infrastructure dominates Senate Republican targets infrastructure package's effect on small business job creators MORE said the Biden administration will resume an Energy Department loan program that gave billions in loans to clean-energy companies during the Obama years.

In comments at the CERAWeek energy conference Wednesday, Granholm said the program “as of today, is back in business.”

“Our loan authority, $40 billion worth, has helped some of America’s bravest entrepreneurs get their best ideas off the ground and flourish into what they are today,” Granholm said, citing the program’s roles in the development of technology like photovoltaic solar batteries and Tesla’s development of electric vehicles.

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“Those kinds of projects have supported thousands and thousands of jobs, and taxpayers have made that money back and then some,” she said. The loan authority existed under the Trump administration but went largely unused.

Granholm said the program would be overseen by clean energy entrepreneur Jigar Shah, who she said had “written the playbook on how to drive the market toward clean energy solutions.”

“He’s going to help us put together an indomitable portfolio of investments for American taxpayers,” she added.

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Under the Obama administration, Republicans blasted the program’s loan to the California solar power company Solyndra, which failed after receiving its loan.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Granholm said the case of Solyndra was an outlier and that the program should instead be associated with Tesla, whose founder Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskNASA picks Elon Musk's SpaceX to build spacecraft for manned moon missions Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Hillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure MORE fully repaid the loan ahead of schedule.

“We’ve learned a lot since [Solyndra],” Granholm told the AP. “People understand that when you invest in technology that is new, you’re going to have some that don’t succeed.″

“We know [the program] had amazing success, for example with Tesla in the past, and we know it can have amazing success in the future with some changes,” she added.