U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantees will cost Americans about $2.7 billion, down from the $5 billion originally estimated, Think Progress is reporting, citing Herb Allison, ex-national finance chairman for Sen. John McCain. The DOE had already recently forecast the loans, which were committed to companies that produced everything from wind farms to cellulosic ethanol and solar power plants, to cost about $3 billion. For comparison, taxpayers subsidized Big Oil to the tune of $70 billion between 2002 and 2008, Think Progress notes.
DOE loans towards clean-energy projects have been a divisive issue as the government looks to narrow its budget deficit and analysts and politicos debate over the dynamics of weaning the country off of fossil fuels. The Obama Administration's decision to delay its decision on the Keystone oil pipeline has caused many to criticize the president over what they see is his unwillingness to try to stem rising fuel prices by approving the pipelines.
DOE loans have also been a point of contention among start-up automakers looking for funding for alt-fuel vehicles. Last month, extended-range plug-in utility vehicle maker Bright Automotive shut down after accusing the federal government of taking too long to process its $400 million in loan requests. The future of Fisker Automotive, maker of the extended-range luxury sedan Karma, has also been called into question because of that company's inability to secure most of the $520 million in loans it was slated to get from the DOE.