Obama says US supporting Chilean solar power plant

Associated Press |

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States wants to help Chile build Latin America's largest solar power plant.

Obama touted the project during an Oval Office meeting with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who has returned to office after winning election in March. Obama said Chile has been a model democracy in Latin America and he wants to deepen cooperation between the two nations.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation on Friday approved a loan guarantee of up to $230 million to support Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar's construction of a 141 megawatt solar power plant in Chile's Atacama Desert, which receives some of the planet's steadiest concentrations of direct sunlight.

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Since June 2013, OPIC has approved almost $900 million of loan guarantees for six renewable energy generation projects in Chile, making the U.S. the largest lender for those projects. The White House said the projects help generate U.S. exports and support U.S. jobs.

"We're both very interested in energy and how we can transition to a clean energy economy," Obama said. "And we'll be announcing some collaborations, including the facilitation of a construction of a major solar plant inside of Chile that can help meet their energy needs."

Bachelet said the U.S. is Chile's "most important foreign investor. We want to continue that path."

Bachelet previously served from 2006 to 2010 and was Chile's first woman to be elected head of state. Obama joked that she is his "second favorite Michelle," presumably after the first lady.

Obama said other topics on their agenda included education and student exchanges, regional security and other issues before the United Nations Security Council, where Chile is one of the non-permanent members this year.

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