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DOE Approves $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Solar Projects

The Energy Department announced Wednesday that is has finalized more than $1 billion in loan guarantees for two separate solar energy projects. The decision comes just a few weeks after the FBI raided Solyndra, a California-based solar panel maker that received a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee in 2009, then filed for bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 workers.

DOE announced a $737 million loan guarantee to help finance construction of the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110-megawatt solar-power-generating facility in Nye County, NV. The project is sponsored by Tonopah Solar, a subsidiary of California-based SolarReserve. The project is expected to result in 600 construction jobs and 45 permanent jobs.

“If we want to be a player in the global clean energy race, we must continue to invest in innovative technologies that enable commercial-scale deployment of clean, renewable power like solar,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a news release. “Solar generation facilities, like the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, help supply energy to local utilities and create hundreds of good, American clean energy jobs.”
The Crescent Dunes facility will generate power using concentrated solar power technology, in which a series of mirrors direct sunlight onto a receiver at the center of the plant.

The Energy Department also announced that it had finalized a separate $337 million loan guarantee to Sempra Energy for a 150-megawatt photovoltaic solar-generation project in Arizona. The project will result in 300 construction jobs, DOE said.

The decision to finalize the loan guarantees comes a few days before the expiration of DOE’s advanced energy loan-guarantee program, funded under the 2009 ARRA stimulus package. DOE says it will make a final decision on about 10 other projects by Sept. 30.

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