DOE: Yes To Big Rooftop-To-Grid Loan Guarantee

A massive effort intended to get grid-connected solar panels on the rooftops of industrial buildings in 28 states looks like it will become reality after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said it finalized a partial guarantee for a $1.4 billion loan to support Project Amp. The closing came amid a flurry of activity today at the DOE Loan Programs Office as it faced a midnight deadline to either wrap up conditionally guaranteed loans or abandon them.

Project Amp will enable a wide distribution of solar power over approximately 750 existing rooftops owned and managed by Prologis, a developer of industrial real estate. Energy produced from the solar panels being spread across these rooftops will feed directly to the electrical grid, as opposed to powering the buildings where they are installed.

Project Amp loan guarantee

image via Shutterstock

To put the scale of this project in perspective, the approximately 752 megawatts of photovoltaic (PV) solar generation the project aims to install amounts to 80 percent of the total amount of PV installed in the United States in 2010, the DOE said.

The lender-applicant on Project Amp is Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The loan guarantee falls under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP). Through FIPP financing, the DOE guarantees up to 80 percent of the loan. Bank of American Merrill Lynch has said the $1.4 billion put up with government assistance would go toward a total private-sector investment of $2.6 billion. The bank said it figures Project Amp will create “10,000 full-year jobs.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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