The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday announced two loan guarantee programs worth roughly $30 billion that aim to boost solar and other renewable energy generation and transmission projects.

The DOE also will spend additional funding to support up $6 billion worth of loan guarantees for transmission projects. 

Companies will have 45 days from now to apply for the loan guarantees, with money for renewable energy construction and specifically for bulking up the electric grid. 

Solar, wind and other renewable energy developers have been waiting for the DOE to start carrying out the loan guarantee funding that was promised by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the stimulus package, which was passed in February this year.

The loan guarantee offerings announced today represent only a portion of the money that has been set aside for loan guarantees through the ARRA, which authorized the DOE to spend $6 billion to guarantee up to $60 billion in loans. The DOE said more "will be announced soon." 

The DOE plans to spend $3.25 billion out of $6 billion support to pay for the costs of supporting loan guarantees authorized under the ARRA. These subsidy costs were typically not covered by the government in previous loan guarantee programs, so applicants had to pay for them, said Stephanie Mueller, a DOE spokeswoman.

The $3.25 billion includes $2 billion to support $20 billion in loans guarantees for building renewable energy and transmission projects and manufacturing related equipment. Another $500 million would support $2 billion in loan guarantees for biofuel projects, Mueller said. All these projects would have to start construction at no later than Sept. 30, 2011 (see rules).

An additional $750 million would be spent to support $6 billion worth of loan guarantees for the transmission infrastructure is a separate program, though it also would be funded by the ARRA. The DOE is looking for projects that use existing technologies and are ready to start construction by Sept. 30, 2011 (see rules).

The DOE also has funding available from its 2009 fiscal budget, and it plans to offer $8.5 billion worth of renewable energy loan guarantees through that regular fiscal funding (see rules).