DOE guarantees financing for 733 MW of rooftop installations . . . perfect!

August 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Seal of the United States Department of Energy.

Image via Wikipedia

But wait, it’s not for you . . . it’s a big win for the big players.

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week conditional loan guarantees totaling $1,400,000,000 for 750 warehouse roofs.  Should we be happy?  Well, I am not exactly thrilled.

Here’s the deal.

Project Amp . . . a consortium of large cap players: NRG Energy, Prologis, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

  • NRG is one the largest wholesale power generation companies in the U.S.  Its portfolio includes 24,000MW of nuclear, coal, natural gas, wind, and utility-scale solar generation.
  • Prologis is a leading owner, operator, and developer of industrial real estate (warehouses) in America.
  • We know about Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

NRG and Prologis will own the solar projects and receive cash grants or ITC and accelerated depreciation.  NRG Solar undoubtedly will be the sole project contractor, and apparently, the big banks need a U.S. government loan guarantee to make secured project loans.  Really?

Amazingly, DOE Secretary Chu states:

This unprecedented solar project . . . will help us meet the SunShot goal of competitive solar power with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.

Please Mr. Secretary, do we really need to wait eight more years to declare something that is within reach today?  Why are you feeding the big fish instead of homeowners across America?

So, as solar enthusiasts, we cheer solar projects of any size and description.  But still . . .

What if instead of Project Amp, the Secretary had announced a loan guarantee program for 366,000 2kW home solar systems (733MW/2kW = 366,000).  At $1,400,000,000, this would be a loan guarantee of $3,800 per home or about 50% of the after PTC costs.  Perfect!

If resources are limited, should we spread the benefit to a larger community of owners and contractors?

For 366,000 2kW home solar systems, imagine the number of homeowner solar advocates, local contractors (jobs!), community bank loans, suppliers, and more.

This is how we take solar to the market . . . one home at a time.  Homeowners vote and are policy advocates; warehouses just sit there and are depreciated and sold and resold.  If you want to advance distributive solar energy, begin with homeowners.

Market supply and demand will determine when solar power is competitive.  Indications are that we already are there . . . we do not need to wait until the end of the decade.

Bank of America should learn again how to make a secured project loan.  It’s not that tricky!

Solar is scalable, distributive, affordable, and economic . . . let’s bring it home!

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES 21 USA, LLC

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA, LLC and its affiliate companies.]

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