Oil Report

Energy Dept to speed up spending for stimulus funds

WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - The Energy Department plans to spend about half of the $35 to $40 billion contained in economic stimulus package for new renewable energy programs within a year, a spokeman said on Friday.

“The secretary is committed to streamlining the process and eliminating unnecessary paperwork so that we can make these important investments that create jobs as quickly as possible,” Energy Department spokesman Dan Leistikow told Reuters.

The department would be able to begin offering loan guarantees authorized in the stimulus package for renewable energy projects about six months after the bill is signed into law, according to Leistikow.

In the past the Energy Department has been slow to disperse loan guarantees. The department has not yet distributed any funds for a renewable energy program established by Congress in 2005.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is trying to change this, Leistikow said. He said Chu is personally reviewing the department’s processes to cut down on red tape.

Chu is also considering bringing in experts from the private sector and other federal agencies to help the department dispurse money quickly, Leistikow said. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by David Gregorio)