Rolling Stone posed this question to Department of Energy chief Steven Chu, : “How do you launch an energy revolution inside an ageing corrupt Cold War bureaucracy like the DOE?”
Answer: With gobs of money.
The DOE has $38 billion in stimulus cash to dispense between now and September 2010. The department is also authorised to make $140 billion in loans to clean-tech companies.
In the past, the DOE was a slow-moving agency that struggled to get money out the door. Before taking over, Steven Chu promised to shovel money out the door with unprecedented speed.
He kept his word. Over $50 billion has already been committed. About half is from the stimulus, the rest from previously approved energy acts.
Solar firm Solyndra got a $535 million loan guarantee.
This was exciting because it was the first loan guarantee issued from 2005 energy bill. The previous administration dragged its feet on these loans.
Solyndra spent $10 million over three years to comply with the DOE while it performed its due diligence.
Critics say there's no such thing as clean coal, but Chu plans on opening up the DOE's wallet to prove them wrong.
- $100 million to Basin Electric Power Cooperative for a post combustion CO2 capture project.
- $308 million to Hydrogen Energy International LLC, a JV owned by BP Alternative Energy and Rio Tinto for a complicated carbon capture project.
- $2.4 billion for researching a variety of ways to clean up coal.
- $1.1 billion to revive the clean coal experiment called FutureGen.
Energy storage is key for the expansion of solar and wind power.
With that in mind, the government provided a $43 million loan guarantee for Beacon Power to build a new 20 MW storage plant in New York.
Will it work? We'll see.
The Department of Energy spread $6 billion across 12 states for 'cleaning up contamination.
This money will be deployed to upgrade and modernize existing hydropower plants.
There are two types of projects that get funding: Over 50 MW non-federal facilities. And under 50 MW federal facilities. The deadline is July 22 to apply for the fund.
Navistar gets $10 million over the next three years to develop a plug-in hybrid bus. This is money that's independent of the stimulus. It comes from normal DOE appropriations.
Navistar will be spending $10 million of its own money on the project, which will test 60 buses and create a bus that travels 40 miles on a single charge.
Your stimulus at work: $8 billion for weatherization.
'The Weatherization Assistance Program will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades and will be available for families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level - or about $44,000 a year for a family of four.'
More stimulus. The DOE says the money can be spent on making buildings more efficient, capturing methane and other greenhouse gases from landfills, renewable energy installations on buildings, and energy efficient traffic signals and street lights, just to name a few things.
Here's how the DOE says it will make sure the money isn't wasted:
'To ensure accountability, the Department of Energy will provide guidance to and require grant recipients to report on the number of jobs created or retained, energy saved, renewable energy capacity installed, greenhouse gas emissions reduced, and funds leveraged. Funding is based on a formula that accounts for population and energy use.'
This money isn't out the door, just yet, but it will be shortly. The DOE plans to disperse $3.9 billion to smarten up the power grid.
Earth2Tech summarized how companies can get their hands on the money:
'Smart Grid Investment Grant Program The $3.4 billion for this program will be distributed in grants of up to $2 million. There are two separate categories, however, for smaller vs. larger projects. Smaller projects, which can get grants in the range of $300,000 to $20 million are slated to get about 40 per cent of the total funds (this could change, depending on who applies), and the rest is supposed to go to larger projects ($20 million and up). For each grant, awardees will have to come up with matching funds.'
The rest of the money goes to companies that are testing technology.
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