Murkowski statement on DOE loan guarantee program

February 12, 2009
12:00 PM
 February 12, 2009                                              or ANNE JOHNSON   (202) 224-7875                            
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today gave the following opening statement at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for convening this important hearing today on the Loan Guarantee Program we created in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. 
The Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program has received particular interest over the past year.  From the standpoint of global climate change the Loan Guarantee Program is an excellent example of the “do everything” approach and will help us develop the 21st Century energy system that our country needs.
Some opponents of this vital program dismiss it as merely a Loan Guarantee Program for the nuclear industry.  That is simply not the case.  The Title XVII program provides support for a broad portfolio of clean energy technologies - everything from energy efficiency and renewable energy systems; to pollution control and vehicle technology; to advanced nuclear and carbon capture projects. 
The Loan Guarantee Program we established four years ago can now assist us as we seek to rebuild our battered economy.  The program supports projects that promise stable, high paying energy sector jobs and will help rebuild a core infrastructure upon which the future prosperity of our country depends.
We are not risking taxpayer dollars with this program.  Instead, fees paid by loan guarantee recipients are designed to cover the costs of potential project defaults.
The energy sector obviously needs the Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program as evidenced by the voluminous number of requests submitted to the Department of Energy.  Despite the current limit of $42 billion for the program, DOE has received more than $120 billion dollars in applications. 
The solicitations that have been closed so far have been oversubscribed by 2 to 5 times. I am hopeful that the renewable energy solicitation will receive similar interest. Certainly the financial crisis facing our country will only increase the demand for the credit access under Title XVII.
Today we are here to discuss the deployment of the loan guarantee program, along with possible ways to improve upon it. I believe there are two points that we must keep firmly in mind as we proceed.
First, there is an urgent need for these services – particularly in this credit crisis – and we should ensure that the current program proceeds as expeditiously as possible.  Where there are roadblocks, they should be removed.  Where rules are ambiguous, clarification should be provided. 
If there is a desire to broaden the current program to provide additional services or achieve different policy objectives, then it should be done in such a way as to not cause delays in the disposition of current applications.
Second, we must ensure equitable treatment of the entire portfolio of clean energy technologies.  Now is not the time to be picking technology “winners and losers.” 
We all have our personal visions of the future and preconceptions of what is possible, but it is the complex interaction of market forces and research and innovation that will determine the details of our energy future.  It is our job to encourage the pursuit of the greatest diversity of options possible.
Thank you again Mr. Chairman for convening this meeting and thanks also to our witnesses for being here to share their testimony.  I know that Mr. Asselstine has given testimony before this Committee previously and Mr. Book and Mr. Karsner are certainly familiar faces.  I’m surprised that this is Mr. Frantz’s first appearance before the Committee but I am pleased he could join us.  Thank you all for your time.  I look forward to your testimony.