Leave me a loan

A threatened program to provide government-backed loans for large-scale clean energy projects—several of which are in Nevada—appears to be safe. The House and Senate passed a bill last week to protect the Department of Energy Renewable Loan Guarantee Program, for which the House of Representatives formerly threatened to eliminate funding. The bill also zeroed out funding for Yucca Mountain.

Sen. Harry Reid and Congressmembers Joe Heck and Shelley Berkley voted for it, while Sen. John Ensign and Congressman Dean Heller opposed it.

Projects seeking the loan guarantees include the 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes solar development near Tonopah, Fulcrum BioEnergy’s Sierra BioFuels Plant in Storey County, and U.S. Geothermal’s San Emidio geothermal expansion project near Gerlach, among others.

A recent report by the non-profit, Las Vegas-based group Clean Energy Project Nevada and the Vote Solar Initiative estimated that more than 1,100 jobs could be created each year for the next nine years if Nevada expands its solar market from the current 35 megawatts to 400 megawatts by 2020. This would involve expanding both large-scale solar as well as rooftop solar. Such a move could generate an average of about $31 million per year through 2020, the report states.