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Department of Energy finalizes loan guarantee to support world’s largest wind project

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that a partial loan guarantee for a $1.3 billion 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.

"Renewable energy investments like these are creating jobs while helping to maintain America’s global competitiveness in the clean energy economy," Chu said. "By leveraging our nation’s vast natural resources, we can help provide alternative sources of energy and stimulate economic growth and job creation."

"Today tells a story about the power of collaboration," said Governor Ted Kulongoski. "State policies coupled with investments from the federal government, local governments, private sector partners, and landowners created the environment in which we are able to create new jobs, new clean forms of energy, and new opportunities that better our state and our nation."

"This is a great holiday gift for eastern Oregon and it couldn’t come at a better time," said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. "This financing from the U.S. Department of Energy will help put people back to work and continue Oregon’s reputation as a clean energy leader."

"This loan guarantee helps ensure that this project will be built, that jobs will be created, that the Oregon economy will benefit, and that the United States will be another step closer to energy independence," U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said. "When it is completed, Shepherds Flat will be one of the largest windmill farms in the world and will put Oregon on the map as a leader in green energy."

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 more than 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 $1.3 billion 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 $16.5 billion. Together, the 16 projects total more than 37 million megawatt-hours of capacity, which will produce enough clean energy to power more than 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.

For more information, visit www.lgprogram.energy.gov.