August 2, 2021

Volume XI, Number 214

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July 30, 2021

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$40 Billion Available through Biden’s Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office for Innovative Technologies

With Democrats taking over the White House and the Senate, many eyes are on climate change and the role that the federal government can take to combat it. A variety of proposals have been floated about the best way for Congress to enact legislation to help in the fight against climate change, but certain actions can be taken immediately. One such action is to deploy $40 billion in loan capacity that was previously allocated to the Department of Energy as part of the 2009 stimulus package. This money is already available to the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office (the LPO”) to spend at any time as a loan or a loan guarantee for qualified projects.

Any new loans would follow $30 billion of loans and loan guarantees previously provided by the LPO under these same programs (most notably under the Obama administration and one large loan associated with a nuclear reactor project under the Trump administration). Under the Biden administration, there is strong optimism that the unallocated funds may be more readily available for qualifying projects. The LPO, recognizing some of the challenges with government credit support programs, has taken steps to better engage interested parties, including providing no-commitment preconsultations to walk potential applicants through the process to ensure that the LPO and the project will each be prepared when the LPO application process begins in earnest. Additionally, in light of the innovative projects that exist in 2021, the LPO is examining the opportunities for offshore wind and the offshore wind value chain as well as looking at vehicle solutions that might qualify under the LPO’s programs.

The $40 billion in loan capacity, including $4.5 billion for renewables alone, is available for applicants seeking financing for innovative fossil energy projects, nuclear energy projects or renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; for fuel-efficient, advanced technology vehicle manufacturers; or for Tribal energy development projects.

To qualify for the renewable energy or energy efficiency loans or loan guarantees, under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a project must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Employ new or significantly improved technologies as compared to commercial technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued.

  • Avoid, reduce or sequester anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.

  • Be located in the United States (foreign ownership or sponsorship of the projects is permissible as long as the projects are located in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or a US territory).

  • Provide a reasonable prospect of repayment.

Interested applicants should be aware that the timeline for LPO loan origination is typically longer than in the commercial financing market—roughly 90 days should be added to a typical project financing timeline for the LPO to diligence program eligibility and obtain internal approvals. However, for innovative projects that meet the other LPO eligibility requirements, the loans or loan guarantees available through the LPO may be a viable option. For instance, for offshore wind projects, long-duration energy storage, green hydrogen or carbon capture projects that have difficulty finding long-term financing from commercial lenders, the LPO loans may be an especially important source of funding in the coming years.

© 2021 McDermott Will & EmeryNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 28
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About this Author

Partner

Christopher Gladbach counsels clients in energy M&A, project development, tax equity and project finance transactions.

Chris works with energy clients in structuring complex equity and debt investments, advises both buyers and sellers in the power sector in mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures, and on the development of large-scale energy projects. He assists his clients in mitigating and allocating risk associated with these transactions in conjunction with achieving their primary business and financial objectives.

Chris has extensive experience advising clients...

202 756 8240
Jacob Hollinger , Environmental & Energy Attorney McDermott Will Emery Law Firm
Partner

Jacob Hollinger is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm’s New York office.  His practice focuses on the environmental, regulatory and litigation needs of energy and manufacturing sector entities.

Prior to joining McDermott, Jacob spent nearly ten years as a government enforcement attorney, first with the New York State Attorney General’s Office and later with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  As an Assistant Attorney General for New York State, Jacob was New York’s lead litigation counsel in several complex environmental and...

212-547-5834
Joel A. Hugenberger, McDermott Law Firm, Corporate Finance and Energy Attorney
Partner

Joel A. Hugenberger advises clients on tax equity, project finance, acquisition finance and corporate finance transactions in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

Joel represents tax equity investors, borrowers, lenders and arrangers in the financing of complex energy and infrastructure projects, domestically and internationally, and in the structuring and negotiation of various secured and unsecured loan facilities and tax equity investment structures. 

212-547-5440
Seth B. Doughty Associate Los Angeles Corporate & Transactional  Energy  Renewable Energy
Associate

Seth Doughty focuses his practice on transactional matters in the energy industry. He has in-house experience at one of the largest Southern California utility companies. There, he gained experience drafting and negotiating a large variety of contracts, amendments and consents for supply and power procurement agreements.

In the power procurement area, Seth has drafted and negotiated a wide variety of power purchase agreements and other purchase and sale agreements, including for energy, capacity, energy efficiency and distribution deferral products. He is also experienced in...

310-788-6001
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