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First Solar Wins $4.5 Billion in Loan Guarantees From U.S.

First Solar Inc., the world’s largest maker of thin-film solar modules, won $4.5 billion in conditional loan guarantees from the U.S. Energy Department for three projects it’s developing in California.

First Solar’s Topaz and Desert Sunlight projects, which will each have 550 megawatts of capacity, and its 230-megawatt Solar Ranch project were each offered low-cost financing needed to begin construction, the Energy Department said today in an e-mailed statement. The agency must distribute all the funds before the loan guarantee program expires at the end of September.

The Energy Department has offered conditional loans or loan guarantees to 40 clean energy projects totaling $38 billion, including $16 billion for solar energy projects. First Solar’s 290-megawatt Agua Caliente project in Arizona, which is being built for NRG Energy Inc., in January won approval for a loan guarantee of as much as $967 million.

First Solar said construction on those approved today will add 1,400 jobs and that the more than 20 million cadmium telluride glass panels used in the projects will be manufactured at plants in Ohio and Arizona.

First Solar rose $6.83 or 5.3 percent to $136.25 at 9:30 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Before today’s gain, the shares had risen 14 percent since Jan. 1.

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