DOE offers $1.187 billion loan to support California solar project

Washington D.C., April 13, 2011 — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the offer of a conditional commitment for a $1.187 billion loan guarantee to support the California Valley Solar Ranch project, sponsored by SunPower Corp.

The project, which is being built in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., includes the construction of a 250 MW alternating current photovoltaic (PV) solar generating facility and associated infrastructure.

California Valley Solar Ranch is expected to create 350 jobs during construction and 10-15 permanent jobs. The project is also expected to avoid over 430,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually and produce enough to power for nearly 60,000 homes.

"The efficiencies created by the California Valley Solar Ranch project will help lower the cost of solar power and encourage more utility-scale solar deployment," said Secretary Chu. "The project will also create hundreds of jobs and will generate clean, renewable power to fulfill increased energy demand."

California Valley Solar Ranch will be the largest utility-scale PV project in the U.S. to utilize tracking technology combined with an innovative monitoring system that will improve annual output by about 25 percent compared with traditional fixed PV installations.

The project will use 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. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will purchase all the output from the project.

The DOE, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $19 billion to support 21 clean energy projects. The program's 10 generation projects will produce over 23 million MWh, enough to power over two million homes.

Additional DOE-supported projects include two of the world's largest solar thermal projects, two geothermal projects, the world's largest wind farm and the nation's first new nuclear power plant in three decades.

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