DOE offers support for Arizona solar project

Washington D.C., January 21, 2011 — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a conditional commitment to Agua Caliente Solar, LLC for a loan guarantee of up to $967 million.

The loan guarantee will support the construction of a 290-MW photovoltaic solar generating facility located in Yuma County, Arizona that will use thin film solar panels from First Solar, Inc.

The project sponsor, NRG Solar, estimates the project will be the largest photovoltaic generation facility in the world when it is completed.

“Solar projects like this are helping the U.S. to compete globally for the clean energy jobs of today and the future,” said Secretary Chu. “The Obama administration is committed to bringing innovative renewable energy technologies to the market to support the country’s transition to a clean energy economy.”

According to NRG estimates, the Agua Caliente Solar project will create 400 construction jobs in addition to generating state and local tax revenues.

The company anticipates the project will avoid about 237,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to taking over 40,000 cars off the road annually. In addition, at full capacity, NRG estimates the project will also provide emissions-free electricity for about 100,000 homes.

The Agua Caliente Solar project will deploy fault ride-through and dynamic voltage regulation, technologies that are new to solar power plants in the U.S.

These technologies will improve the reliability and predictability of the electricity generated by solar power plants and supplied to the electricity grid. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will purchase power generated from the project and deliver clean, renewable electricity to California consumers.

The Department of Energy, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $17 billion to support 17 clean energy projects. Together, these projects will produce over 37 million MWh, enough clean energy to power about 3.5 million homes. Additional DOE-supported projects include two of the world’s largest solar thermal projects, the world’s largest wind farm and the nation’s first nuclear power plant in three decades.

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