Solar Energy Gets $1.8B In Loan Guarantees

On September 30th, time runs out on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan guarantee program. The loan program (a.k.a. Section 1705), which was brought in under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was slow to take off initially, but the last few months have seen a dizzying amount of announcements authorizing billions of dollars in federal backing for renewable energy and biofuel projects and it would seem that the DOE isn’t done with its plans to issue more. According to another funding announcement, the DOE is issuing over $1.8 billion in conditional commitments for loan guarantees between two large solar concentrating solar power (CSP) plant projects in California.

The benefactors of the pending loan guarantees are Abengoa’s Mojave Solar Project ($1.2 billion) in San Bernardino County, California , and the NextEra Genesis Solar Project ($681.6 million) , located on BLM land in Riverside County, California. Combined, the two power plants are expected to generate about 500 megawatts of clean energy. Between the two projects over 1600 construction jobs are expected to be created with another 117 or so ongoing operations jobs.

Solar power, Tessera, Imperial Valley

image via California Energy Commission

Both projects were approved, back-to-back, in September of 2010 by the California Energy Commission. Since the Genesis project was to be located on federally managed land, the Department of the Interior (DOI) had to give its blessing,too, which it did in early November 2010 as part of a fast-track approval process that included six other green lights for renewable energy projects.

Yet, there’s been little word on progress for either project since. Today’s conditional commitment announcement means that there is a bit more red tape to deal with before the loan guarantees can be closed. Obviously, the DOE plans on getting that done before the end of September and, of course, we’ll be sure to let you know when that happens.

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