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Nevada solar project to move forward without federal help

WASHINGTON — A solar power project outside Las Vegas that did not follow through on an offered federal loan guarantee is moving forward without government help, a company executive said this week.

Federal backing for the proposed 20- to 25-megawatt photovoltaic plant near Apex grew complicated when its sponsor, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures Inc., or FRV, was acquired by solar energy developer SunEdison just a month before the loan offer expired.

FRV in June was offered a $45.6 million loan guarantee by the Department of Energy, conditioned on a series of financial reviews.

Mark Mendenhall, president of SunEdison North America, said the new owner withdrew the DOE application after taking over FRV. He said SunEdison “did not have time since our acquisition to be able to complete the paperwork.”

“We did not have enough time to complete our own due diligence and felt our best course of action was to rely on our existing business model, which is entirely dependent on private financing and capital,” Mendenhall said.

The loan-guarantee program, created by the 2009 economic stimulus law to help jump-start renewable energy projects, expired Sept. 30.

Mendenhall said SunEdison, a division of silicon-wafer developer MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., is negotiating with investors and plans to complete the Apex project by mid- to late 2012. He said workers began site preparation last week.

The Apex plant was expected to create 250 jobs during construction and four permanent ones when it goes on line.

FRV’s solar portfolio included projects in the United States generating 42 megawatts and 28 others in stages of development for a total of 1.4 gigawatts of solar capacity, the company said in August when it announced its pending sale.

Fast-growing SunEdison operates more than 450 sites in various countries. In the FRV deal, SunEdison also acquired a second solar project near Apex. The 37-megawatt Solar Spectrum facility still in development phase and is projected to be completed in 2013, Mendenhall said.

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