- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona’s largest solar power plant will remain in operation despite its parent company’s recent financial meltdown, a U.S. Department of Energy official said.

Abengoa, the Spanish company that owns Solana Generating Station near Gila Bend, is on the verge of liquidating assets in preparation for possible bankruptcy. Solana, which earns revenue by selling power to Arizona Public Service Co., was built thanks to a $1.5 billion loan from the U.S.

The U.S. is still protected if Abengoa goes into bankruptcy, Energy Department spokesman Bart Jackson said. According to Jackson, the loan was made to Abengoa Yield Plc and Liberty, a company separate from the parent company. Abengoa S.A., however, is the largest investor in Abengoa Yield.

“Solana, which is currently online and generating clean power, is owned by a project finance company that is repaying its loan with interest,” Energy Department spokesman Bart Jackson said. “As we do with every project in the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office portfolio, we will continue to closely monitor its status throughout the life of the loan guarantees to protect taxpayer interests.”

Abengoa is also the parent owner of Mohave solar plant in California. Mohave should not be affected either, Jackson added.

APS spokeswoman Jenna Shaver said APS sends payments for Solana to an American bank in the name of Arizona Solar One, a subsidiary of Abengoa Yield.

Abengoa informed Spain’s stock regulatory agency last month that it would seek the Spanish precursor to bankruptcy, the Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/1lf9kiN ). In Spain, insolvency proceedings allow a company four months to determine financing with creditors before bankruptcy. That process usually leads to liquidation. Abengoa met with several setbacks in the past year including failed attempts to raise capital and shareholder lawsuits.

Solana opened in 2013. The plant, which occupies 3 square miles of farmland, uses mirrors to reflect the sun’s heat onto gas-filled tubes and can generate power at night. Electricity is created from the heated gas making steam and spinning turbines.

Energy officials have come under fire before for dealings with solar companies. In 2011, California-based Solyndra filed bankruptcy. That solar company had taken out a $535 million loan from the government.

Today, the U.S. Treasury says the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office has received more than $6 billion in repayments from companies. That figure includes more than $1.2 billion in interest.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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