DoE finalizes $1.2 billion loan guarantee to support California solar power

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department has finalized a $1.237 billion loan guarantee to support the California Valley Solar Ranch Project, sponsored by SunPower Corporation. The solar energy project, which is being built in San Luis Obispo County, CA, includes the construction of a 250 megawatt alternating current photovoltaic (PV) solar generating facility and associated infrastructure. The California Valley Solar Ranch Project is expected to fund 350 jobs during construction. The project is also expected to avoid over 425,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and produce enough to power over 64,000 homes.

“This innovative solar power generation project will supply local utilities with clean energy, and fund hundreds of new American jobs” said Secretary Chu. “The investment in these technologies will strengthen our economy here at home and is crucial to our nation’s ability to compete in the global clean energy race.”

California Valley Solar Ranch will be the largest utility-scale photovoltaic project in the U.S. to utilize tracking technology combined with an innovative monitoring system that will improve annual output by approximately 25 percent compared with traditional fixed PV installations. The project will utilize single-axis trackers controlled by the innovative wireless tracker monitoring and control (TMAC) system to orient the PV modules toward the sun and maximize solar collection. The TMAC monitoring system receives real time weather updates so the solar array can be stowed in harsh weather conditions to preserve the life of the solar modules. The solar power generation project will be supported by a power purchase agreement where power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the largest utility in California.

Loan applications reviewed by the Department have undergone many months of due diligence and often receive bipartisan support. DOE evaluates the technical aspects of an application to make sure the technology is feasible, works to ensure that projects can be built to scale, does extensive market analysis to ensure there is a place in the market for the product, and evaluates the finances of the project to ensure it is commercially viable. We are confident that supporting these projects will help American companies compete in the global clean energy market.

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office administers three separate programs: the Title XVII Section 1703 and Section 1705 loan guarantee programs, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. The loan guarantee programs support the deployment of commercial technologies along with innovative technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, while ATVM supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies. To date, the Department has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling nearly $40 billion to support more than 40 clean energy projects across the United States, including several of the world’s largest concentrating solar power generation facilities, three geothermal energy projects and the world’s largest wind farm.