Recent DOE programs and funding opportunities

October 26, 2009
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Loan guarantees for renewable energy projects. The Department of Energy recently announced that it will provide up to $750 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to cover the cost of loan guarantees for conventional renewable energy generation projects, such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydropower. Prior loan guarantee solicitations have focused on new or innovative technologies not in general use in the marketplace.

This solicitation is the eighth round of solicitations issued by the DOE’s loan guarantee program and the first under the DOE’s new Financial Institution Partnership Program. The FIPP is a streamlined set of standards designed to expedite the DOE’s loan guarantee underwriting process and leverage private sector expertise and capital for the funding of eligible projects. Under this FIPP solicitation, proposed borrowers and project sponsors do not apply directly to the DOE, but instead work directly with eligible lenders to obtain financing. The lenders then apply to the DOE for partial, risk-sharing loan guarantees of no more than 80 percent of the maximum aggregate principal and interest during a loan term. Eligible projects under this solicitation must, among other things:

  • Be reasonably likely to commence construction on or before Sept. 30, 2011.

  • Be expected to have a credit rating of at least “BB” or an equivalent rating with a nationally recognized credit rating agency.

  • Receive a significant equity investment from the borrower or project sponsors.

For a copy of the full solicitation announcement go to https://www.fedconnect.net/FedConnect/?doc= DE-FOA-0000166&agency=DOE.

SBIR/STTR program funding. The DOE has announced its annual Phase I Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer funding opportunities. While funding for these opportunities does not come from the ARRA, the DOE’s SBIR/STTR programs do provide qualified small businesses an excellent opportunity to receive funding for their renewable energy projects.

Phase I of the SBIR/STTR programs is designed to evaluate the scientific or technical merit and feasibility of ideas that appear to have commercial potential and/or substantial applications in support of DOE mission research facilities. The maximum amount for an individual award under this solicitation is $100,000 and the DOE expects to make up to 360 total awards, subject to availability of funding. The current solicitation has 66 topics across the various DOE offices, each of which contains several subtopics. In particular, the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is accepting applications for topics in the following areas:

  • Hydrogen, fuel cells and infrastructure technologies.

  • Advanced solar technologies.

  • Advanced thermoelectric technologies.

  • Geothermal energy technology development.

  • Production of biofuels from cellulosic biomass.

  • Advancements for subcomponents critical to electric drive vehicle power inverters and motors.

  • Wind energy technology development.

Only domestic small business concerns are eligible to receive awards under the SBIR/STTR program. A small business concern is one that, at the time of award, meets the following criteria:

  • Organized for profit, with a place of business in the United States, which operates primarily within the United States.

  • At least 51 percent owned and controlled by individuals who are citizens, or permanent resident aliens, of the United States.

  • Has, including affiliates, not more than 500 employees.

Applications for these Phase I grants are due Nov. 30. Applicants must pre-register in order to be able to apply. The solicitation announcement and related application requirements can be found at www.science.doe.gov/sbir/solicitations/ FY%202010/c30_Notice.htm and technical topic descriptions can be found at www.sc.doe.gov/sbir/Solicitations/ FY%202010/c30_topics.pdf.

Maxwell N. Barnes in an attorney with Miller Johnson.

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