DOE Finalizes Two Loan Guarantees for Giant Renewable Projects

January 5, 2011

DOE has given two loan guarantees for huge renewable energy projects. The agency announced on December 16 that it had finalized a partial loan guarantee for a $1.3 billion loan to support the world's largest wind farm, the 845-megawatt (MW) Caithness Shepherds Flat project to be located in eastern Oregon. And on December 21, DOE said it had finalized a $1.45 billion loan guarantee for Abengoa Solar Inc.'s 250-megawatt Solana solar project near Gila Bend, Arizona. The huge Arizona project is believed to be the world's largest parabolic trough concentrating solar plant.

The Caithness wind farm, sponsored by Caithness Energy, LLC and GE Energy Financial Services, will avoid more than 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, an amount equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide from approximately 200,000 passenger vehicles. The project will use 338 GE 2.5xl wind turbines. This is the first wind farm in North America to deploy these turbines, which have been used in Europe and Asia. Once completed, the project will sell 100% of the power and renewable energy credits generated to Southern California Edison under 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements. See the DOE press release.

The Arizona solar project is the first large-scale U.S. solar plant capable of storing energy it generates. Solana will produce enough energy to serve 70,000 households and will avoid the emissions of 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year compared to a natural gas burning power plant. The project sponsor estimates that the Solana project will create between 1,600 and 1,700 new construction jobs and more than 60 permanent jobs in Arizona and in neighboring states. To meet the project's need for more than 900,000 mirrors, a mirror manufacturing facility will be built outside of Phoenix. Electricity from the project will be sold through a long-term power purchase agreement with Arizona Public Service Company. To date, DOE's Loan Programs Office has issued loan guarantees or has offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees to support 16 clean energy projects totaling nearly $16.5 billion. See the DOE press release and the Loan Programs Office Web site.