WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy is asking governments and development finance authorities to participate in the first stage of a new federal loan guarantee program for alternative energy projects, which is expected to be used in conjunction with municipal bonds and will guarantee at least $50 billion of debt.

The program was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Loans guaranteed by the federal government can be used to fund alternative energy production and manufacturing components used to generate solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric power.

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