On August 12, 2010, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new loan guarantee solicitation for renewable energy manufacturing projects.  The Commercial Technology Renewable Energy Manufacturing Projects solicitation (the "Solicitation") is supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the "Recovery Act") through Section 1705 of the Loan Guarantee Program and is focused primarily on providing new green energy jobs and the deployment of renewable energy technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The solicitation specifically identified "Eligible Projects" to include renewable energy manufacturing projects or facilities located in the United States that:

  • Manufactures Commercial Technology products that support the generation of electricity or thermal energy from renewable resources;
  • Has Project Costs greater than seventy-five million dollars ($75,000,000);
  • Is able to obtain a credit rating equivalent of "BB" or better from Standard & Poor’s or Fitch, or "Ba2" or better from Moody’s, as evaluated without the benefit of any DOE guarantee or any other credit support;
  • Will create or retain jobs in the United States; and
  • Otherwise meets all applicable requirements of Title XVII, including Section 1705, the Solicitation, including all attachments and all applicable requirements of the Recovery Act.

The Solicitation also provided, for illustrative purposes, examples of the types of Eligible Projects that may qualify, which include the following:

  • wind energy component or systems manufacturing facilities;
  • solar photovoltaic (PV) component or system manufacturing facilities;
  • concentrated solar power component or system manufacturing facilities;
  • hydropower component or system manufacturing facilities;
  • geothermal component or system manufacturing facilities;
  • other geothermal power cycle component or system manufacturing facilities; or
  • ocean wave, tidal, and river current (e.g. hydrokinetic) component or system manufacturing facilities

Of primary importance for any potential applicants under this Solicitation is the timeline for making application and the requirement that projects commence construction no later than September 30, 2011.  Specifically, the Solicitation consists of a two-step process with rolling deadlines.  The first Part I deadline is September 30, 2010, and the first Part II deadline is November 30, 2010.  Final Part I applications are due November 30, 2010 and final Part II applications are due January 31, 2011.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to get their applications in early — particularly in light of the commence construction deadline.  In addition, the DOE will make available up to $750 million to pay the credit subsidy costs of loan guarantees issued through this solicitation.

It should be noted that the DOE recently implemented a number of improvements to its loan guarantee program that will help facilitate a more efficient application process through the launch of a "user-friendly" online application portal.  The application portal can be accessed directly from the DOE’s loan guarantee program website.  According to the DOE, this on-line application system is designed to:

  • guide the applicant through the development and submission of a loan or loan guarantee application;
  • assist the applicant in determining basic program eligibility;
  • assist the applicant in preparing an application suitable for DOE review;
  • highlight areas of the applicant’s proposal that may require additional information;  and
  • provide the applicant with guidance on how to prepare a stronger application.