The Southern California desert is now home to the world’s largest solar power plant.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined state officials on Monday to open the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar project in the town of Desert Center, Calif., near Joshua Tree National Park. Built by First Solar, the project generates enough electricity to power 160,000 average California homes.

Desert Sunlight received a federal loan of nearly $1.5 billion, and Jewell called its completion an example of the loan guarantee program’s tremendous importance.

“When you are stepping out with new technology, when you are trying something that has been untested before, a loan guarantee program from an organization like the Department of Energy is what provides you, as a lender, that certainty that you can step up and support the project,” Jewell told The Desert Sun.

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