Announcement Mirrors Provision in Bipartisan Energy Bill; Alaska Well-Positioned to Benefit
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, issued the following statement after the White House announced it will clarify that state energy financing institutions are eligible for the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program. This announcement mirrors a provision that Murkowski authored and successfully included in the broad, bipartisan energy bill recently reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“Earlier this year, I recognized this simple clarification as an opportunity to improve our existing policies and for the federal government to partner with states,” Murkowski said. “I am confident this eligibility will open up a new pathway for the State of Alaska – which is closer to the people and better aware of local needs – to continue its work to reduce the high cost of energy and create more sustainable economies in our rural communities.”
According to a fact sheet distributed by the White House in advance of President Obama’s remarks at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Department of Energy will issue “new guidance making clear that state-affiliated financial entities” are eligible to submit applications for eligible projects to the loan guarantee program.
Murkowski included language with similar effect within the broad, bipartisan energy bill that she and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell developed over the first seven months of the 114th Congress. The energy committee reported that bill, which includes several additional reforms for the energy loan guarantee program, by a vote of 18-4 shortly before the August recess.
The State of Alaska has created multiple loan and investment programs that are supporting the development of renewable energy and greater energy efficiency in local communities. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) are enabling the development of renewable energy projects to move communities off of expensive diesel power and making buildings more energy efficient. Many projects that would benefit rural Alaska communities are too small to take advantage of DOE’s current loan programs, however, sparking Murkowski’s interest in a clarification of state eligibility.
Murkowski is the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. More information on the committee’s broad, bipartisan bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, is available on the committee’s website.