Saturday, May 11, 2013

DOE Renewable Energy Loan Program Has Created 20,000 Jobs (Way Beyond Solyndra)

By Jeff Spross
Solar panel installation via Shutterstock
Image Credit: Solar panel installation via Shutterstock

The Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program was started in 2005 under the Bush Administration, but ramped up thanks to the 2009 stimulus passed by President Obama and the Democrats. It has gotten a bad rap ever since the high-profile failure of Solyndra, one of the solar tech companies the program invested in.

As The Atlantic Wire notes, that last point is especially important to remember. The loan program has paid out $26 billion in total, resulting in a less-than-impressive ratio of $1.2 million per job created. But that’s with the government’s expenditures all out the door, and the returns from the companies yet to come in:
The loan guarantee is often considered a cost, which it isn’t. Some programs — like that wind farm out in Hawaii, are already repaying the loan, though it’s not clear how much. Others, like NextEra Energy, never received the full loan amount. We are currently at the high point of the dollars-for-jobs-created ratio. Given the nature of the program, the amount the government is out is reduced gradually over time.
The calculation is only temporarily that 0.8 jobs were created for every $1 million spent. It is nearly as fair to say that the ratio is 20,000-to-zero.
Obviously, the 20,000 jobs for $0 is an almost-certainly unattainable ideal, but that’s the direction in which the ratio is headed. And for the curious, here’s a map The Atlantic Wire compiled of the various projects and their numbers:

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