Antelope Valley Solar Ranch receives first federal loan disbursement

Exelon’s 230 megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One being built in Los Angeles County, Calif., received the first advance on a federal loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE’s) Loan Programs Office. The disbursement finalized Exelon's ownership of the project, which is being built by First Solar.

The project is among one of the largest that’s currently under construction. “Construction on the project began last year.,” said Exelon spokesperson Paul Elsberg. “The funds were disbursed by the Federal Financing Bank. The loan is guaranteed by the Department of Energy.” The disbursement of federal loan funds makes sure that the project will continue to move ahead.

The disbursement of the federal funds was held up by scrutiny of the program following the Solyndra collapse and by permits from Los Angeles County agencies. They needed to approve certain changes requested by First Solar related to the amount of earth the company could remove at Antelope’s construction site.

Exelon already had purchased the project from First Solar for an estimated $1.36 billion. But until the first disbursement of federal funds of the $646 million in loans approved for the project, the company had the right to sell the project back to First Solar. The companies did not disclose how much of the loan money they took to support the project’s development.

Although Exelon has 34,650 megawatts of generating capacity, this is its largest solar project to date. “This is Exelon’s only project with First Solar. Beyond that we don’t comment about prospective asset acquisitions,” Elsberg said.

The first part of the project is slated to come online later this year. However, it’s not clear how much will be producing by then. “We do not know exactly how much will come online by the end of 2012, only that some portion will,” Elsberg said. The rest of the 230 megawatts is expected to come online by late 2013. Once completed it will supply power to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. under a 25-year power-purchase agreement.

Image courtesy of First Solar