Nuclear loan guarantees by U.S official

With the current Japan nuclear crisis and the remembrance of President Obama's statement to encourage and fund nuclear energy in the U.S., the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program has confirmed it will move forward with the funding for nuclear projects in the United States. This announcement, made at the Cleantech Forum, has many citizens concerned and even confused at the potential ignorance in the wake of everything we’ve seen go wrong in the Japan.

United States Officials

Though the loans have been guaranteed for the overall energy plan, of which nuclear power is a part of, White House officials have not confirmed they are currently moving forward. In a presentation at the Cleantech Forum, Jonathan Silver the Executive Director of the Department of Energy's loan programs office stated, "I point out here that the technology at use in the project we financed is quite different from the ones that have been affected by Japan." Though this may be true, it may not bring satisfaction to those who are concerned with the potential future fallout. Though the nuclear energy options may be safe in current America, many are concerned with the long-term future as well.

Renewable Energy

Though the loan programs $36 billion plan includes nuclear power as a possibly, a majority of the program focuses on renewable energy including solar and wind. When the financial industry took a hit in the recession many financiers pull funds out of similar projects leaving the energy loan programs to pick up the slack. Financial loss was not the only reason financiers of the projects dumped them. There was also concern as to the research and actual legitimacy of the renewable energy options.

Mixed Criticism

The Department of Energy's loan program has received mixed criticism from all sides of the fence. The green energy advocates are complaining money is not coming out of the program fast enough and groups opposed to the loan are strict in their view of more wasted money. Congressional Republicans specifically question the Energy Department’s smart spending practices and have moved forward to cut the departments funding for the $71 billion loan guarantee program.

Poor Loan Decisions

The Energy Department's inspector released an audit showing there was poor record keeping resulting in an inability to keep track of funding programs. This could indicate a bit of truth to Republican concerns on weak spending habits throughout the loan program and cause U.S. citizens to distrust the department in all their spending. This issue was not addressed by Department of Energy’s Executive Director Mr. Silver in his presentation at Cleantech. 

Future Plans

Mr. Silver did note that though the program was started under the Bush administration in 2005, there has been little funding and progress until Mr. Silver became Executive Director in 2009. Now the program employs 170 people, has financed the world's largest wind farm and the world's two largest thermal solar plants. The loan program expires in September of 2011. Mr. Silver’s take on the future of the program include, “I think you will see us issue conditional commitments for a significant number of projects over the next couple of months.”

It's difficult to tell where the Department of Energy is headed with their significant loan money and energy plans. Many U.S. citizens are concerned with the go ahead of nuclear power considerations, especially on the height of other potential renewable energy sources. In the wake of the Japan tragedy, many countries are reconsidering their energy sources and may shift toward more renewable options as well.