Granholm Wakes Up DOE’s Loan Programs Office, Appoints Jigar Shah

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office “as of today, is back in business,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced this morning.
The new head of the office, which offers loans to energy ventures deemed too risky to attract private-sector capital, is Jigar Shah, a leading clean-energy thinker and entrepreneur who founded SunEdison and wrote a book on deploying markets to combat climate change.
“He's going to help us put together an indomitable portfolio of investments for American taxpayers,” Granholm said this morning at the CERAWeek Conference. “So we are ready to invest in advanced vehicles and carbon capture and advanced reactors and so much more.
“The possiblities are endless.”
President Donald Trump sought repeatedly in his budget requests to eliminate the Loan Programs Office, which had become a Republican Party punching bag after the failure of one of its recipients, the solar developer Solyndra. Granholm argued, as have many of the office’s defenders, that taxpayers have profited, on net, from its activities.
“Taxpayers have made that loan money back and then some,” she said, “$500 million to the good.”
Granholm highlighted some of the office’s most notable successes:
“When solar-photovoltaic developers wanted to help meet the growing demand for renewable energy, we stepped in to help them build the first five utility-scale facilities in the nation, which kick-started the fast growing sector of our economy, which is utility-scale solar. Or when a little company called Tesla wanted to manufacture the first zero-emission, zero-gas, full-sized electric vehicles, it was the Loan Programs Office that helped them to grow their first factory to production scale, and now of course they’re the world's leading electric-car company.”
Those kinds of projects, she said, have supported thousands of jobs.
The Trump Administration used little of the office’s $42 billion in loan authority until the lame-duck period late last year, when it issued a guidance offering loans for the production, processing and recycling of critical minerals used in electric vehicles, renewable energy, advanced nuclear reactors, hydrogen fuel cells and carbon-capture technologies.
“So, much of this Authority at the Loan Programs Office went unused over the last four years,” Granholm said, “but I am ready to rev those engines back up so that we can spur the next generation of innovation and deployment.”
Granholm described Shah as “an amazing field general to lead the way.”
Shah is the co-founder of Generate Capital, a finance company that specializes in battery storage, solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies. Generate announced today that he had stepped down to take the DOE appointment.
“Prior to co-founding Generate, Jigar pioneered ‘no-money-down solar’ as the founder and chief executive officer of SunEdison, which unlocked a multibillion-dollar solar market and made SunEdison the largest solar services company worldwide before its acquisition by MEMC,” according to his biography at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment. “After SunEdison, Jigar served as the founding CEO of the Carbon War Room, a global nonprofit founded by Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Unite to help entrepreneurs address climate change. Jigar is the author of Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy.”
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