DOE Guarantees Loans Up to $624MM for Wind, Geothermal, Cellulosic Ethanol

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The US Dept. of Energy (DOE) issued partial loan guarantees for renewable energy projects in three states totaling as much as $624 million Friday. Energy Secretary Chu announced partial loan guarantees of $168.9 million for Granite Reliable Power’s 99-megawatt (MW) wind farm, New Hampshire’s largest; up to $350 million for Ormat Nevada’s 113MW geothermal power plants; and $105 million for POET’s ‘first-of-its-kind’ cellulosic ethanol bio-refinery in Iowa.

New Hampshire Wind Power

Granite Reliable Power’s 99MW wind farm located in northern New Hampshire’s Coos County would be the state’s largest, creating nearly 200 construction jobs. Thirty-three Vestas V90 3.0MW wind turbines will be erected on the site, generating enough clean, renewable electrical power for nearly 20,000 homes while avoiding more than 124,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Most of the Granite wind farm’s electricity will be sold to Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power. Project lead lender WestLB bank filed for a partial DOE loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), in which the DOE provides a partial guarantee for up to 80% of a loan.

“Today’s investment brings new jobs to New Hampshire and supports the commercial-scale deployment of clean energy technologies in the U.S.,” Secretary Chu said while announcing the award.

“America’s wind energy resources are abundant, clean and mostly untapped. Continued investments in this source of emissions-free energy will strengthen the economy, create good American jobs and help the nation compete with other countries that are quickly scaling up wind power generation.”

Nevada Geothermal Power

Ormat Nevada was awarded a partial loan guarantee for as much as $350 million to build three geothermal power plants in Nevada with a total generating capacity of 113MW of clean, renewable, baseload electrical power. Upon completion, the plants would boost Nevada’s geothermal power production by almost 25%. An estimated 332 jobs will be created during construction and another 64 for operating the plants.

The Ormat geothermal plants will produce enough electricity to power some 88,000 homes while avoiding nearly 580,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

All of the geothermal power plants’ output will be sold to the Nevada Power Co. under separate long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs). John Hancock Life Insurance Co. (USA) submitted the DOE application under the FIPP.

“We are investing in geothermal projects that will further develop the nation’s clean energy resources, create skilled jobs for American workers and ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in geothermal energy development,” Secretary Chu said. “The project announced today will produce virtually no greenhouse gas emissions and will create hundreds of new jobs in Nevada.”

Cellulosic Ethanol in Iowa

Secretary Chu also announced a $105 million loan guarantee to support construction of one of the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Sponsored by POET, Project LIBERTY is expected to produce as much as 25 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Projected to generate some $14 million in new revenue to area farmers providing the corn crop residue that will serve as feedstock for the ethanol plants, approximately 200 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs are expected to be created. Equipment made in the USA will make up an estimated 85% of all the equipment used.

Project LIBERTY will use enzymes to convert cellulose from corncobs, corn leaves and corn husks into ethanol, producing enough bio-gas to power its operations and most of POET’s adjacent grain-based ethanol plant. POET intends to use the same design and process across all its 27 grain ethanol plants for a combined annual capacity of 1 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

“This project represents a pioneering effort to make broad scale deployment of cellulose ethanol a reality,” Secretary Chu stated. ”Producing the next generation of biofuels can not only reduce America’s oil dependency, it can also create vast new economic opportunities for rural Americans.”


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