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Twelve months ago, the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) released a report about how loan guarantees helped launch the utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar industry in the United States. In 2011, LPO issued loan guarantees to the first five PV projects larger than 100 megawatts (MW) in the United States. As required by law, LPO stopped issuing new loan guarantees under the Section 1705 Program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on September 30, 2011. As of February 2015, the initial investments made by LPO helped build a market that subsequently financed an additional 17 PV projects larger than 100 MW in the United States – all financed without DOE loan guarantees and many of them by the 14 financial institutions that LPO had worked with through the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP) on the Desert Sunlight project.
Since the release of LPO’s solar PV report one year ago, the solar industry’s momentum has continued to grow aggressively. As of February 2016, the number of utility-scale PV projects that have been financed without DOE loan guarantees has jumped to 28. This includes new projects in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, and Utah, as well as the first project of this scale in Colorado.
The story of utility-scale PV solar gets to the heart of what we aim to do at LPO – help launch new markets. LPO fills a gap in the marketplace, and we look forward to replicating this success by financing new, innovative technologies that are commercial ready as utility-scale PV solar was in 2010.