Dept. of Energy Finalizes Loan Guarantee to Support World's Largest Wind Project

U.S. Dept. of Energy grants partial loan for Caithness Shepherds Flat project, 845-megawatt wind facility will create hundreds of jobs, avoid over 1.2 millions tons of carbon dioxide annually.


U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced that a partial loan guarantee for a $1.3B loan has been finalized to support the world's largest wind farm. The loan will finance the Caithness Shepherds Flat project, an 845-megawatt wind generation facility located in eastern Oregon sponsored by Caithness Energy, LLC and GE Energy Financial Services.

According to company estimates, the project will directly employ 400 workers during construction and 35 workers during operation. The company projects the wind farm will avoid over 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide from approximately 200,000 passenger vehicles.

The Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project will use 338 GE 2.5xl wind turbines, which are designed to provide high efficiency and increased reliability, and grid integration. The wind farm is the first in North America to deploy these turbines, which have been used in Europe and Asia. Once completed, the project will sell 100 percent of the power and renewable energy credits generated to Southern California Edison under 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements.

The Caithness Shepherds Flat project is the sixth Recovery Act-supported project to close and the largest to date to receive a loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP). The $1.3B loan is funded by a group of 26 institutional investors and commercial banks led by Citi, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., RBS Securities and WestLB Securities, Inc. The closing of this transaction reflects the market acceptability of the loan guarantee model under FIPP, including cooperation among multiple creditors.

The Department of Energy, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees, or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees, to support 16 clean energy projects totaling nearly $16.5B. Together, the 16 projects total over 37 million megawatt-hours of capacity, which will produce enough clean energy to power over 3.3 million homes. Additional DOE-supported projects include two of the world's largest solar thermal projects and a 2,200 megawatt nuclear power plant - the nation's first in three decades.

U.S. Department of Energy, Loan Program Office

- Edited by Gust Gianos, Consulting-Specifying Engineer

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