WASHINGTON | Thu Sep 8, 2011 11:39am EDT
(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Energy said it has offered $344 million in loan aid for a solar power program at military bases that could double the number of the country’s residential rooftop solar arrays.
The DOE on Wednesday offered a conditional commitment for a partial guarantee of the loan to support the project led by SolarCity, a company based in California.
Under the plan known as SolarStrong, SolarCity will install, own, and operate up to 160,000 rooftop solar arrays on military family homes at as many as 124 bases across the country.
It is expected to create more than $1 billion in solar projects and 371 megawatts of new solar generation capacity, or enough power for about 60,000 to 100,000 homes.
“This is the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a release. He said the project could be a model for other rooftop solar projects in the United States.
SolarCity expects the project to fund about 750 construction jobs over five years and 28 full time operating jobs.
USRG Renewable Finance will act as the lead lender project and Bank of America Merrill Lynch will provide debt financing and advisory services.
The DOE will guarantee up to 80 percent of the loan.
The first stage of SolarStrong is underway at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. Additional installations are expected to follow on military sites in Nevada, Kentucky, California and Te