U.S. Government Loans $28.6 Million to Wind Farm--in Honduras

By Pete Winn | March 13, 2013 | 11:45am EDT

Seal of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. (Image: Ex-Im Bank)

(CNSNews.com) - The federally chartered Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has approved a $28.6 million direct loan to a high-tech wind power company in the Central American country of Honduras.

The loan will enable 200 workers in six U.S. states to assemble 12 high-tech wind turbines for export. The cost of those jobs works out to $143,000 per job created.

According to the Ex-Im Bank, the transaction will help to expand a project first supported by the bank in 2010, when its long-term financing of 51 U.S.-built turbine generators established the Cerro de Hula Wind Farm in Santa Ana, Honduras.

Gamesa Wind US, LLC, a technology firm based in Trevose, Pa., will supply and export six each of its high-efficiency model G-87 and G-97, 2.0 MegaWatt turbines to generate electric power in rural Honduras. Gamesa is the U.S. subsidiary of Gamesa Tecnologicos SA, a company based in Spain.

The bank said the loan “is demonstrating the importance of its role to fill gaps in financing for creditworthy borrowers.”

“With this project, we've achieved an impressive win all around: for exporters, for U.S. workers, and for energy consumers in Honduras, because the wind-driven generators cost less to operate than their equivalent in fossil-fueled equipment,” Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg said in a statement.

The Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency of the U.S. government, which “helps to create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers,” according to bank promotional materials.

“In the past five years (from Fiscal Year 2008), Ex-Im Bank has earned for U.S. taxpayers nearly $1.6 billion above the cost of operations,” according to the bank.

The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.

However, critics point to the fact that U.S. taxpayers do indeed back the loans made or guaranteed by the bank – and U.S. taxpayers would be called on to cover loans in the case of default.

Conservative groups also claim the Ex-Im Bank is an unwarranted government intrusion into the free-market system and unaccountable in how it dispenses U.S. money.

Efforts led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to abolish the bank fell short last May, when the Senate voted 78-20 to renew its charter for three years and to raise the bank’s lending cap from the current $100 billion to $140 billion.

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