DOE backs 3 more solar loans as deadline looms

September 30, 2011 - 3:10 PM
Solar Energy Loans

This artist rendering released by SolarReserve LLC shows what will be the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a solar generating facility, that is being constructed northwest of Tonopah, Nev., in Nye County. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, the department has completed a $737 million loan guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy, for a 110 megawatt solar tower on federal land near Tonopah. SolarReserve LLC, of Santa Monica, Calif., is the parent company for Tonopah Solar Energy. (AP Photo/SolarReserve)

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a midnight deadline looming, the Energy Department has approved three more loan guarantees for solar energy totaling about $3.5 billion.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the department has completed a $1.5 billion loan guarantee to Arizona-based First Solar Inc. for a 550-megawatt solar farm on federal land in Southern California and $646 million to Exelon Corp. for a 230-megawatt solar plant near Los Angeles.

A third project, worth $1.4 billion, will support installation of about 750 solar rooftop panels in 28 states.

The loans were approved under the same program that paid for a $528 million loan to Solyndra Inc., a now-bankrupt solar panel maker that has become a symbol for critics of the Obama administration's green energy program.

The loan program expires on Friday.