Largest Concentrating Solar Power Facility in the World to Create Over 7,500 Jobs

Solar Trust of America, LLC (Solar Trust), a leading U.S. integrated solar solutions company, announced that its development subsidiary, Solar Millennium, LLC, has received a draft term sheet for a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the Blythe Solar Power Project (Blythe) in California under its 1705 program for Innovative Technologies.

The draft term sheet is an important financial milestone in the realization of what will be the world’s largest concentrated solar energy facility and a significant catalyst to the development of a manufacturing supply chain for solar thermal technology in the U.S.

Blythe has had significant bipartisan support at the local, state and federal levels, and was selected by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as a priority solar project for environmental approvals, consistent with incentives in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). Located in Riverside County, where the October unemployment rate was at 14.7 percent, Blythe is the first parabolic trough solar facility approved on U.S. public land.

Blythe is fully permitted for up to four 250 megawatt (MW) plants that together will deliver 1,000 MW of renewable generating capacity to the grid, or enough electricity to annually power more than 300,000 single-family homes. The draft term sheet corresponds with the development of the first two of four power plants.

“This Concentrating Solar Power project construction is expected to create over 1,000 direct jobs in Southern California, 7,500 indirect jobs in related industries throughout the United States, and more than 200 long-term operational jobs at the facility itself. It will play a key role in stimulating the American economy,” said Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America and Executive Chairman of project development subsidiary Solar Millennium, LLC.

Solar Trust is seeking to finance the first two units at Blythe (combined capacity of 500 MW) in 2011 utilizing the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program. John Clapp, Solar Trust of America’s Chief Financial Officer, said that receipt of the term sheet is an important milestone as the DOE and Solar Trust work towards a conditional commitment and eventual financial close for the financing of the first two units at Blythe. “We are very pleased with the proactive response of the DOE loan guarantee team regarding the Blythe project and the improvements the DOE has made to support this critical program for innovative renewable projects in the U.S.,” he said.

Clapp went on, “We also anticipate that other government agencies involved in the Loan Guarantee program will move quickly to support fully permitted projects, such as Blythe. The DOE’s Loan Guarantee program, along with the Treasury Department’s Cash Grant program, are both critical components of renewable energy financing for utility-scale solar projects in today’s market environment.”

Receipt of the DOE draft term sheet builds on two other important milestones in the project’s history that affect its construction and operation: the license granted to Solar Trust of America on September 15 by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Record of Decision (ROD) issued by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on October 25.

According to statistics from the DOE, upon completion, the Blythe facility will increase the solar electricity production capacity of the U.S. by more than double.

Solar Trust of America, LLC is an integrated industrial solar solutions company strategically positioned to support the critical need for renewable energy generation in the United States. The company’s Project Development, Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC), financial resources and operational management expertise ensures the delivery of a fully integrated concentrated solar power solution using commercially viable and proven parabolic trough solar thermal energy technology.