Biden Administration Names Jigar Shah Head of US DOE’s $44 Billion Loan Program

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The Biden administration selected Jigar Shah, a well-known figure in the microgrid community, to run the Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan program, which has about $44 billion in available lending authority.

Jigar Shah

Jigar Shah to lead DOE loan program

The DOE is expected to play a central role in the Biden administration’s efforts to fight climate change. President Joe Biden aims to cut fossil fuels from the power sector by 2035.

“We have to add hundreds of gigawatts to the grid over the next four years,” DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm said March 3 during the CERAWeek conference hosted by IHS Markit. “It’s a huge amount. And there’s so little time.”

Granholm said the DOE’s Loan Programs Office, which closed one loan during the Trump administration, is “reopened for business.”

The office has provided $30 billion in loans and loan guarantees to emerging renewable energy and advanced technology projects, including early backing for utility scale solar and Tesla.

As head of the loan program, Shah will be busy, according to Granholm.

“Much of this [loan] authority went unused over the last four years,” Granholm said. “But I’m ready to rev those engines back up, so we can spur the next generation of innovation and deployment.”

Shah’s firm helped finance microgrids

Most recently, Shah was co-founder and president of Generate Capital, an investment firm for sustainable infrastructure, including microgrids.

As part of its clean energy portfolio, San Francisco-based Generate Capital helped finance modular microgrids developed by Scale Microgrid Solutions, a company that has been focusing heavily on providing microgrids for communities and businesses affected by power outages in California.

Shah touted the benefits of microgrids in a January 2019 opinion piece in The Hill about technology that could make the grid more resilient. “Microgrids would make the biggest difference in a natural disaster,” Shah said. “Their small, compact nature also means that select sections of the grid can be kept in operation even if everything else is off.”

Generate Capital, which has a portfolio of more than 2,000 sustainable energy, mobility, water, waste and agriculture projects, invests in solar, energy storage, fuel cells and building automation, among other things.

Shah also founded and ran SunEdison, a renewable energy company.

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“Jigar has written the playbook on how to drive the market towards clean energy solutions,” Granholm said. “He’s going to help us put together an indomitable portfolio of investments for American taxpayers that will help us tackle climate change and create jobs.”

The DOE is ready to invest in advanced vehicles, carbon capture and advanced nuclear reactors, according to Granholm.

The department also plans to build on its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, which funds research and development for emerging technologies, Granholm said. 

ARPA-E last month released a $100 million request for “clean” energy proposals.

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