By Phoenix Business Journal

NRG Energy Inc. has received a $967 Million federal loan guarantee to build a former First Solar Inc. photovoltaic solar project near Yuma.

The Princeton, N.J.-based NRG (NYSE:NRG) bought the Agua Caliente solar project for an undisclosed sum last month from Tempe-based First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR). The 290-megawatt power plant is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

With the grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the project would be nearly $1.8 billion. It has received a conditional approval for the grant.

⿿The public private partnership between NRG Solar, First Solar and the Department of Energy will be instrumental in adding an unprecedented amount of emission-free solar power to America⿿s energy portfolio,⿝ said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar, in a statement.

Work started on the project late last year, and NRG has a 25-year agreement to sell the power it produces to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in California.

The project should generate about 400 jobs through its construction and come online in 2014.

First Solar still is involved with the project and will supply the panels for it. NRG has been developing a larger presence in the Arizona market, having bought the Northwind Energy Center from APS Energy Services Co., a division of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

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