SOLAR forum: DOE $1.4 Bil solar loan program - Project Amp

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Jun 28, 2011 5:10 PM CST
Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ
“Washington D.C. - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $1.4 billion loan to support Project Amp. This project will support the installation of solar panels on industrial buildings across the country, with the electricity generated from those panels contributing directly to the electrical grid, as opposed to powering the buildings where they are installed. Supported by funding from the 2009 stimulus bill, the solar generation project includes the installation of approximately 733 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which is nearly equal to the total amount of PV installed in the U.S. in 2010. The project sponsor estimates Project Amp will create at least one thousand jobs over a four year period. “ (inactive) (ACTIVE LINK)

This is a somewhat complicated funding of a viable energy program. Frankly, I can’t see why Bank of America Merrill Lynch should be considered for award of a loan for Project Amp… they did a bad job with the Loan Mod effort re housing debacle and are still being investigated. But, the goals look good, worth the effort, hopefully will be well monitored to avoid fraud. It’s odd to think the $1.4 Bil is our income taxes at work, collected by the gov’t, given to private corporation (TARP participant) and managed by same, creates energy that we purchase. Odd.
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." --Albert Einstein
[Last edited Jun 29, 2012 3:46 PM CST]
Quote | Post #704402 (1)
Jun 28, 2012 10:28 AM CST
Name: Steve
Prescott, AZ
I guess I don't know the details of the financing structure: specifically, I don't know how much BOA stands to gain by managing this loan program. It seems to me that $1.4 billion is a tiny market compared to, say, the retail mortgage market with is something more than $10 trillion. My speculation is that it was easier for the DOE to use a single financier than to use sixteen smaller ones, but I share your concern about at least the symbolic gesture of rewarding incompetent management and fiduciary irresponsibility by throwing the contract in their general direction.

My guess is that most of the $1.4 billion will actually end up being used to purchase and install solar panels. I'm guessing, too, that the economics of such a program will be attractive because one of the primary costs of solar panel installations is the cost of renting real estate. The large rooftops of commercial buildings amount to rent-free spaces, cutting the cost of installation by - just guessing - thirty to fifty percent. Finally, because it is a loan guarantee, the money will be paid back - probably out of savings and revenues that result from the PV installations. It strikes me as a very well crafted program that should deliver peak generating capacity for a fraction of the price of, say, coal powered generation and without the carbon load. It seems to me that a program that creates four thousand jobs, invests in an economically sound method of creating electrical energy during peak load periods, saves money over other methods, and pays back the government with interest is very much a program in the public interest.
Jun 29, 2012 3:49 PM CST
Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ
I noticed the DOE link with the June 2011 announcement is dead. I've found another link regarding Project Amp dated Sep. 2011. Still, I don't see any updates on the project.

$1.4 Bil. It would be interesting to "follow the money" from contract agreement to today.

Steve, did you notice it was exactly a year from my post to yours, yesterday?
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." --Albert Einstein

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