U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced conditional commitments to provide loan guarantees in connection with two geothermal projects located in Oregon and Nevada. Specifically, on June 10, 2010, Secretary Chu announced that the Department of Energy offered a $102 million conditional commitment for a loan guarantee to U.S. Geothermal, Inc. to construct a 22 megawatt geothermal power project in Malheur County in southeastern Oregon. The project is slated to use an improved technology to extract energy from rock and fluids in the earth’s crust more efficiently. In addition, U.S. Geothermal estimated that the planned project will create 150 jobs during the 20-month construction period and employ 10 skilled full-time workers when it begins operating in 2012.
On June 15, 2010, Secretary Chu announced that the Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $98.5 million loan by John Hancock Financial Services to the Nevada Geothermal Power Company ("NGP") for a 49.5 megawatt geothermal project in Humboldt County in northwestern Nevada (the "Blue Mountain Project"). This conditional commitment is the first access to a loan guarantee through the Financial Institution Partnership Program ("FIPP"), which was launched by the Department of Energy on October 7, 2009. Under a FIPP financing, the Department of Energy provides a guarantee for up to 80 percent of a loan provided by qualified financial institutions to a renewable energy project utilizing commercial technologies. In connection with the loan guarantee for the Blue Mountain Project, John Hancock Financial Services was the lender-applicant and lead lender. The Blue Mountain Project "consists of a geothermal well field, fluid collection and injection systems that enable energy to be extracted from rock and fluid below the Earth’s surface, and a power plant that converts geothermal energy into electricity." The electricity generated by the project will be sold to Nevada Power Company under a 20-year power purchase agreement.