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U.S. Loan Program May Not Be Profitable…And That May Not Matter

The U.S. loan program that lost millions on solar panel manufacturer Solynda, but is now projecting billions in revenue to taxpayers [1], may be coming up with the wrong answer to the wrong question, says a former acting director of the Congressional Budget Office.

After factoring in interest on the money the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office borrowed to support $32.4 billion in clean energy innovation, Donald Marron says the program may only break even. But “he argues that the issue of profit is largely beside the point,” Forrest writes.

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“DOE’s lending programs should not be evaluated solely or even primarily based on their profitability or lack thereof,” Marron notes. “What matters is their overall social impact.”