Tesla $465 million loan is no more. As the Department of Energy gets back its Tesla $465 million loan, the new Energy secretary will have to decide whether to make more such controversial clean-energy loans.
The Tesla $465 million loan may be a thing of the past, but the future of the controversial federal program that funded it is back in the spotlight.
Given the success of Tesla, will new Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz use the program's remaining funds to help other private companies? Or have the high-profile failures of other federally backed clean-energy ventures dampened the administration's enthusiasm for direct investments in the private sector?
By paying back its hefty federal loan nine years ahead of schedule, electric carmaker Tesla Motors certainly scores points for the Department of Energy (DOE). Tesla's string of recent highs has helped silence critics who pointed to the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars lost to Solyndra and other bankrupt companies. And the department's Loan Program Office points to a variety of quieter successes.
To date, the program's losses account for about 2 percent of the $34 billion loan portfolio, according to the Energy Department. That's less than 10 percent of the $10 billion Congress set aside to cover expected losses.