Largest U.S. solar rooftop project secures $1.4 billion DoE loan guarantee

Distributed generation was given an enormous boost last week with the Department of Energy’s decision to provide a loan guarantee for “Project Amp,” a 733 megawatt distributed solar project –the largest single project of its kind in U.S. history.

According to a press release announcing the project, this initiative will create the equivalent of more than 10,000 jobs across 28 states and provide enough renewable energy to power about 100,000 homes.

Beyond the immediate benefits, Project Amp’s sheer size and geographic spread will help scale solar technologies and best practices, further reducing technology and transaction costs for the industry in the future. Additionally, the financial innovation behind Project Amp may help to unlock hundreds of similarly sized projects.

Here’s how it works:

  •  ProLogis, the owner and operator of the rooftop space, acts as the solar developer and construction manager for the installations.
  • NRG Energy—a large electric power company—funds the first phase of the project while Bank of America Merryl Lynch provides large-scale financing, enabled by the $1.4 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
  • Clean, renewable electric power generated by the solar systems will be sold to a local utility through long-term power purchase agreements.

Large-scale job-creating projects such as these are key to bringing renewable energy into the American mainstream. Pending news on the project’s continued progress, Project Amp’s approval should help convince investors that creatively structured gigawatt-scale solar projects are safe, profitable, and smart investments worthy of serious financial commitment.

RMI is currently working with industry and government to foster the creation of financial innovations that enable initiatives like Project Amp to materialize. Such forward-thinking business models have the potential to unlock widespread deployment of solar energy in the U.S., an important step towards RMI’s vision of a distributed, low-carbon electric system.

For more information on the project, visit the Department of Energy and GigaOM.