SunPower receives conditional loan guarantee from DOE as it dedicates its 75MW plant in Milpitas

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In future weeks, SunPower will almost certainly be marking April 12 as not only an eventful day, but a successful one as well. Not only did the company celebrate the opening of its Milpitas module manufacturing plant, but also announced that the US Department of Energy (DOE) has offered the company a conditional loan guarantee for its California Valley Solar Ranch power plant. US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and California Governor Edmund “Jerry” Brown joined company officials as it dedicated its 75MW solar panel manufacturing facility in Milpitas, California.

“Strong public policy at both the federal and state levels is paying off with job creation and capital investments from our equipment manufacturers to our dealers that install SunPower systems on homes and businesses across the US and around the world,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “…With the dedication of our solar panel manufacturing facility in partnership with Flextronics, Governor Brown's signing of California's 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard and the Department of Energy's SunShot program, we can invest further to make solar competitive with all power sources, lowering long-term energy costs for all customers.”

Built in cooperation with Flextronics, who is credited with bringing the plant into full production less than four months after the first panel was produced, the 75MW Milpitas manufacturing plant has created 100 new jobs. SunPower notes that its new manufacturing plant will allow the company to provide panels for solar installations in a more rapid, yet cost-effective way. Specifically, the Milpitas location will supply solar panels for SunPower’s 250MW California Solar Valley Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo County.

The CVSR project received additional support today as well with an announcement by Secretary Chu advising that the US DOE offered the project a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee for up to US$1.187 billion. Construction on the project is anticipated to begin this summer once permitting and financing have been settled. Operations at the plant should begin by the end of this year with the balance coming on line in 2012 and 2013.

“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,” stated US Energy Secretary Steven Chu.  “The project will also create hundreds of jobs and will generate clean, renewable power to fulfill increased energy demand.”

Although SunPower will design, build and initially operate and maintain the CVSR project, NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, will adopt all ownership and financing responsibilities, subject to certain conditions. Pacific Gas and Electric Company will plans to purchase all of the output energy from the project.

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