Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Political debate over loan guarantees to Arizona solar company

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is holding hearings to pursue his claim that "The Department of Energy manipulated analysis, ignored objections from career professionals, and strategically modified loan evaluations in order to force project funding out the door," in regards to federal loan guarantees on two solar energy projects being built by Tempe-based First Solar Corp., the Agua Caliente generating facility in Yuma County, Arizona, and the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch in California, according to ABC News.

A DOE spokesman called said the House committee was "inventing false and misleading controversy."

The Agua Caliente Solar Project [right, location map] will be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) project in the world
at 290 megawatts (MW) when completed in 2014, according to NRG Energy, which is acquiring it from First Solar. DOE approved a $967 million loan guarantee in 2011.

The Agua Caliente project was named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World, a leading industry magazine, and PV Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA, the industry’s leading utility-scale solar power conference, according to a news report from Reuters last month. "The first 30-megawatt phase of the project began commercial operation in January."

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