DOE Backs $90.6 Million Loan to Build Solar Power Plant

Penny Starr | September 13, 2011 | 4:01am EDT
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Energy Secretary Steven Chu ( Starr)

( – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced last week that his agency has finalized a $90.6 million loan guarantee with Cogentrix of Alamosa, LLC for the construction of the Alamosa Solar Generating Project in south-central Colorado.

DOE’s Sept. 9 press release said the money will “support the Alamosa Solar Generating Project, a 30 megawatt High Concentration Photovoltaic power generation facility that will generate clean, emissions-free power in Colorado.”

The press release also states that Cogentrix “estimates that the project will support up to 100 construction jobs, but the company did not answer a inquiry as to how many permanent jobs would be created.

The DOE has three loan guarantee programs for energy-related projects, including one under Title XVII of the Environmental Protection Act of 2005 for “a renewable energy systems project, electric power transmission systems project or leading edge biofuels project.” Under EPA law, non-commercial and “advanced technology vehicles” are also eligible for loan guarantees.

A loan guarantee is a contractual obligation between the government, private creditors and a borrower—such as banks and other commercial loan institutions—that the federal government will cover the borrower’s debt obligation in the event that the borrower defaults.

“The Loan Programs allow the Federal Government to share some of the financial risks of projects that employ new technologies that are not yet supported in the commercial marketplace or where private investment has been inhibited,” according to the DOE Web site.

Cogentrix has a power portfolio that includes solar thermal, hydro, and coal-fired facilities, according to its Web site. The corporation also owns hydro, wind and thermal -power facilities in Turkey.

The corporation also has some oil and gas holdings in the U.S.

The DOE also states in its press release that “to date” the agency “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.”

Those projects include “the world’s largest solar generation facilities, three geothermal projects, the world’s largest wind farm and the nation’s first nuclear power plant in three decades.”

Cogentrix’s solar project includes a “power purchase agreement,” which calls for the Public Service Company of Colorado to buy the power generated by the facility for the next 20 years.

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