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NRG Gets U.S. Guarantee for $2.6 Billion Rooftop Solar Plan

NRG Energy Inc., an independent power producer, was awarded a conditional loan guarantee by the U.S. Energy Department to support a distributed solar program in 28 states and Washington, D.C.

The conditional commitment guarantees 80 percent of $1.4 billion in debt facilities provided by Bank of America Corp., the agency said today in a statement. The loans will help finance a four-year program, named Project Amp, to install rooftop photovoltaic projects with a total capacity of 733 megawatts on 750 industrial buildings owned by Prologis Inc., the world’s largest warehouse manager.

The partnership and government backing will help reduce the costs of rooftop solar projects, said Jonathan Plowe, head of Bank of America’s energy and infrastructure solutions team.

“The scale of the project, together with the financing structure and the DOE guarantee, will make this a game-changer for the industry,” Plowe said today in a telephone interview. “It’s a big step forward for solar energy and one that we think is going to transform the way that rooftop solar works in this country.”

Project Amp may cost as much as $2.6 billion, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America said today. NRG has agreed to provide equity financing for the program over the next 18 months and has a right of first offer for to fund the remainder. Prologis will also invest in each phase, Plowe said. The initial 15.4-megawatt installation in Southern California will sell power to Edison International utility Southern California Edison Co.

The scale of the project is “nearly equal” to the total amount of photovoltaic panels installed in the U.S. in 2010, the Energy Department said. Each phase will feed electricity into the grid, rather than supplying power to the buildings where they will be built.

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