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By Ryan Randazzo
The Arizona Republic
A $500 million solar-power plant west of Phoenix built partially with goverment funds is evidence that the Energy Department loan program is working as intended, said Daniel Poneman, U.S. deputy secretary of Energy.
Poneman on Wednesday visited the Mesquite Solar 1 plant west of Phoenix, built by San Diego-based Sempra Generation using a $337 million federal loan guarantee. Sempra financed the portion of the project not covered by the loan.
“We are watching the creation of a new, vibrant solar industry in Arizona,” Poneman said as he traveled to the site. “It shows we are really seeing results out of that program.”
The loan-guarantee program took a hit last year when one recipient of more than $500 million in government funds, Solyndra Inc. of California, filed bankruptcy and defaulted on the government loan.
Among the goals of the program was to jump-start the U.S. solar industry after the recession, when financing was difficult. Despite the Solyndra setback, Poneman said the program has driven results.