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Energy commission approves first clean energy business loan

Mon, 08/30/2010 - 12:22pm
Medical Design Technology

The California Energy Commission approved the first loan from the Clean Energy Business Financing Program (CEBFP) to a Silicon Valley solar cell manufacturing facility. Calisolar, located in Sunnyvale, was awarded a $5 million loan to purchase equipment to expand the manufacture of high performance photovoltaic cells. The Clean Energy Business Financing Program is using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to provide up to $30.6 million in 2.75 percent low-interest loans to private businesses that improve or expand their energy efficiency or renewable energy manufacturing facilities in California.

Using these stimulus and private funds, Calisolar’s project will expand solar cell capacity production from 60 megawatts (MW) annually to 75 MW annually by December 2010. The project will create and/or retain an estimated 181 full-time equivalent jobs when operating at their maximum production levels and offset 81,131 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. Calisolar is providing $20,716,00 in leveraged financing for the project’s total $25,716,002 cost. The loan will be repaid in 84 monthly payments.

Calisolar’s application was one of 44 submitted to the CEBFP and evaluated on job creation/retention, energy saved, leveraged financing, and an economic adjustment for manufacturing job loss. After review by the Energy Commission the applications were then sent to the financial development corporations (FDCs) through the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency (BTH) where they underwent rigorous business credit analysis. CEBFP awardees that scored high in these categories were eligible for funding depending on CEBFP loan capacity available. The proposed loan awards were announced July 2010 for seven companies including Calisolar.

Calisolar Inc., the only U.S. supplier of multi-crystalline solar cells, was also awarded a clean energy manufacturing tax credit of $51.6 million in ARRA funding. Calisolar was selected based on merit after a review of criteria including domestic job creation, impact on reducing pollution, potential for technological innovation and commercial deployment and project time from certification to completion.

The California Energy Commission received $226 million under the State Energy Program to implement public and private sector programs. The Clean Energy Manufacturing Program is providing up to $30.6 million in ARRA funds and is leveraging public and private funds and provides opportunities to help business and industry to embrace new technologies and innovative products that build a clean energy economy. These innovative projects will rebuild our electricity grid, sustain jobs, retrofit our homes and businesses and eventually produce the future of our State’s transportation fuels and the vehicles powered by them. Douglas noted that the loss of manufacturing jobs since 2001 has cost California nearly $75 million a year in lost wages and $5 billion annually in lost tax revenue—money that once helped pay for schools infrastructure and other services.

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