Federal backing supports technologies that promise great rewards for the US, but carry greater risks than private investors are usually willing to take on their own. America simply cannot afford to pass up the opportunity to bolster growing industries that improve our nation’s energy, economic, and environmental fortunes. The country started subsidizing oil and gas development nearly 100 years ago because of the benefits they could provide then. Now it makes sense now to nurture new, promising low-carbon alternatives instead.
The federal government’s track record on supporting clean tech is an enviable one, with far more winners than losers. Of the 30 battery and electric-drive firms that received stimulus funding, 28 continue to deliver. And in the case of A123 and EnerDel, the other such company that went into bankruptcy, work will continue at these US facilities. Further, A123 and EnerDel represent just 18 percent of the vehicle battery grants, meaning 82 percent of that portfolio is still performing.
The large number of renewable energy companies that received taxpayer backing are doing well, too. In fact, of the 26 that received federal loans, 23 are still on track. One other, Beacon Power, is going through bankruptcy, but it is still operating, and has nearly paid back its entire federally backed loan. The other two were Abound and Solyndra, the latter of which became the first failed company the Chicken Littles thoroughly politicized. But the collective risk from those three companies totals just 6 percent of the portfolio. In other words, 94 percent of the investments are still performing.