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Energy Department’s Loan Portfolio Continues Strong Performance While Deploying Innovation

November 12, 2014 - 4:36pm


Graphic by <a href="/node/379579">Sarah Gerrity</a>, Energy Department.

Graphic by Sarah Gerrity, Energy Department.

At the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO), each project in our portfolio that comes online is an important achievement in our all-of-the-above energy strategy. In the five years since it issued its first conditional commitment, LPO has helped launch the utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar industry, deploy the next generation of concentrating solar power, revitalize the U.S. nuclear industry, commercialize cellulosic biofuels, and accelerate the growth of advanced and electric vehicle manufacturing.

We think those results show that LPO is succeeding in its mission to help finance the first commercial deployments of innovative technologies in the U.S. In addition to working toward our mission, we take our responsibility to protect taxpayer interests very seriously.

The best perspective for assessing LPO’s financial performance is to look at the portfolio in its entirety. And, as a whole, the portfolio is performing very well.

As of September 2014, 20 projects supported by LPO are operational and generating revenue. These projects are now repaying their loans to the U.S. Treasury, which issued the loans guaranteed by the Department through the Federal Financing Bank. Already, $3.5 billion in loan principal has been repaid on these long-term loans, which have an average tenor of 22 years. In addition, more than $810 million in interest payments have already been earned. For loans that have been disbursed to date, we expect to earn more than $5 billion in total interest payments over the full term of the loans -- all of which goes back to the benefit of taxpayers.

However, losses are also inherent in any lending portfolio. And because the mission of LPO is to finance innovative technologies that have never been deployed at commercial scale in the U.S., the program was intentionally designed to carry some level of risk -- and Congress specifically set aside funds to cover those losses when the program was established. But today, actual and estimated loan losses to the portfolio are only approximately $780 million, or only a little over 2 percent of the program’s loans, loan guarantees and commitments -- and less than the more than $810 million in interest payments the program has earned to date.

As projects continue to repay loans and as LPO issues new loans and loan guarantees with its remaining $40 billion in authority, these portfolio numbers will continue to change. Through rigorous due diligence and portfolio management by our highly experienced team of professionals, we expect the portfolio’s financial performance to remain very strong and continue to help move us toward our clean, low-carbon energy future.

To learn more, check out the Loan Program Office's Financial Performance Report.