Tenaska solar loan guarantee applications on hold

Thu May 12, 2011 6:52pm EDT

* Tenaska solar projects on hold for DOE loan guarantee

* One project slated to use Soitec CPV technology

LOS ANGELES May 12 (Reuters) - Tenaska's two large Southern California solar power projects are among those whose federal loan guarantee applications have been put on hold, the energy company said on Thursday.

The planned 130 megawatt Imperial Solar Energy Center South and 150 megawatt Imperial Solar Energy Center West in Imperial County were both expected to be completed by 2015, with construction on the first beginning this year or next.

In an emailed statement, Tenaska Vice President of Development Bart Ford said the company could apply for funding through a different federal loan guarantee program or proceed with financing in the commerical bank markets.

"We continue to feel very good about the projects," Ford said. "We continue our development activities at the same pace."

On May 10, the Energy Department sent letters to applicants for its renewable energy loan guarantee program saying their projects had either been prioritized or put on hold. [ID:nN12122489]

In March, Tenaska said the 150 MW plant would use French silicon maker Soitec SA's (SOIT.PA) concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology, which converts sunlight into electricity via concentrator optics and solar cells.

To support that project and others, Soitec at the time said it would begin building a San Diego-area factory upon receipt of the U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee. The location of the 200 MW capacity factory was expected to be announced this summer.

Soitec officials could not be reached for comment.

The two projects have power purchase agreements with Sempra Energy (SRE.N) utility San Diego Gas & Electric.

Tenaska is based in Omaha, Nebraska. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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