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DOE Closes on Four Major Solar Projects

The Department of Energy announced it closed on loan guarantees for four major solar projects Friday afternoon, hours ahead of the approval deadline for the Section 1705 program.

A handful of large-scale photovoltaic projects did not close on their conditional loans. These projects include: First Solar Topaz in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. (550 MW); Fotowatio Renewables in Las Vegas (20 MW); and Solar City’s SolarStrong (371 MW in 33 states).

First Solar, which was involved in two of the deals Friday, has already said that it would not be able to meet the Friday deadline for the Topaz project. SolarCity, meanwhile, said it received word recently that it would not be able to meet the deadline.

$1.24 billion for California Valley Solar Ranch

The project, sponsored by SunPower Corporation, will be built in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., and includes the construction of a 250-MW PV solar generating facility and associated infrastructure. It is expected to fund 350 jobs during construction.  

California Valley Solar Ranch will be the largest utility-scale PV project in the U.S. to utilize tracking technology combined with a monitoring system that will improve annual output by approximately 25 percent compared with traditional fixed PV installations. The project will utilize single-axis trackers controlled by the wireless tracker monitoring and control (TMAC) system to orient the PV modules toward the sun and maximize solar collection. The TMAC monitoring system receives real time weather updates so the solar array can be stowed in harsh weather conditions to preserve the life of the solar modules. Power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the largest utility in California.

$1.46 billion for Desert Sunlight

First Solar’s Desert Sunlight has received backing for a 550-MW project that is expected to fund more than 550 construction jobs in Riverside County, Calif.

The Desert Sunlight project is expected to use approximately 8.8 million cadmium telluride thin-film solar PV modules. Project construction will take place in two phases, both of which are supported by power purchase agreements. Phase I will have a capacity of 300 MW, which will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Company, while Phase II will have a capacity of 250 MW, which will be sold to Southern California Edison.

The $1.46 billion in loans that are partially guaranteed by DOE will be funded by a group of investors led by lead lender and lender-applicant, Goldman Sachs Lending Partners LLC, which submitted the project under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. as co-lead arranger.

$646 million for Antelope Valley Solar Ranch 1

The loan guarantee will support a 230-MW thin-film PV solar generation facility in Antelope Valley in North Los Angeles County, California. The project, recently acquired by Exelon Corporation, is anticipated to fund 350 construction jobs and 20 operations jobs.

The project will use First Solar’s FS Series 3 PV Module and will feature inverters with voltage regulation and monitoring technologies that are new to the U.S. market. The project is supported by a power purchase agreement to sell the power it will generate to Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

The Antelope Valley Solar Ranch 1 Project is supported by a power purchase agreement to sell the power it will generate to Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

$1.4 billion for Project Amp

The solar generation project includes the installation of approximately 752 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which is more than 80 percent of the total amount of PV installed in the U.S. in 2010. Project Amp will support the installation of solar panels across about 750 existing rooftops owned and managed by Prologis. The electricity generated from the distributed generation project will contribute directly to the electrical grid.  The project sponsor estimates Project Amp will create more than 1,000 construction jobs over a four-year period.

Solar installations will be built in up to 28 states and the District of Columbia. NRG Energy is the lead investor for Phase I of the installations. Project Amp’s application was submitted by the lender-applicant, Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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