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15 Apr 2011 02:04:16

STA wants protection of loan guarantee

Uwe T. Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America, an integrated industrial solar solutions company, has emphasised that the protection of Federal Loan Programme will result in new jobs in the renewable energy sector. Schmidt argues that support from the Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office has seen commercial technologies coming to market. He added that every $1 appropriated by Congress to the programme spurs $13 in private investment.

"With so many obvious benefits, it is surprising that House leaders have chosen to target the Loan Guarantee Program for significant funding cuts," wrote Schmidt. He wrote that the Loan Guarantee Programme is attracting private capital to the industry and its role cannot be understated, as many of today's largest and most important renewable energy projects would not be able to proceed without it. Citing his own company's example, he said that by building the largest solar power facility in the world in Riverside County, California, the company will bring over 1,000 direct construction jobs.

In the last quarter of 2010, the company shared that its project development subsidiary, Solar Millennium, secured a Record of Decision from the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management, approving the Blythe Solar Power Plant's Right of Way Grant. This decision was the final regulatory milestone in the federal permitting process and it paved the way for Solar Millennium to build and operate its Blythe solar power project.

The site, according to Schmidt, has been surveyed and fully permitted, transmission rights have been secured, and the 120,000 tons of steel required for the first phase of building is ready to be purchased from American mills, processed by American fabricators, and delivered to the site by American rail and trucks. At the same time, he cautioned, "But none of this will happen if Congress takes the knife to the Loan Guarantee Programme."
The company has had discussions with the DOE's Loan Guarantee Programme to secure debt financing for the first two units at Blythe. In October last year, the company shared that it's been in discussions with investors regarding project equity and tax equity in conjunction with its financial advisors, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank.

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