NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NRG) has completed its acquisition of the 250-megawatt (MW) California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) project from SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWRA, SPWRB). The acquisition occurred immediately prior to today’s financial closing of the project’s loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Loan Programs Office.
Construction on the project began this month, with approximately 350 jobs expected to be created in San Luis Obispo County over the two-year construction period.
Once completed, the California Valley Solar Ranch will power about 100,000 homes and will be one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants in the world. NRG also owns five other large-scale solar projects in California, Arizona and New Mexico.
“Large-scale solar installations like California Valley Solar Ranch create hundreds of jobs during construction and—combined with distributed solar on rooftops—contribute enormously to the achievement of California’s ambitious renewable portfolio standard,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG’s Solar and West Region. “Working with companies that offer cutting-edge but proven technology and solar expertise has enabled NRG to become the leading developer of solar power in the country.”
NRG now bears full ownership responsibility for the project, which is expected to begin partial operations by early 2012, with the balance of the project coming online later in 2012 and 2013. SunPower will complete the project’s design and construction, working with Bechtel, which is providing balance of plant engineering and procurement services and construction services. Once completed, NRG and SunPower will jointly operate and maintain the project for two years, and then NRG assumes sole responsibility for operations and maintenance of the project.
“The agreement SunPower announced three years ago with PG&E to build the California Valley Solar Ranch launched the first market for central station solar PV power plants in the world,” said Howard Wenger, president of the utility and power plants business group at SunPower. “Solar PV power plants produce power at prices competitive with new natural gas peaking plants and will soon compete favorably with combined cycle gas plants as well. While generating affordable, reliable solar power, CVSR and our solar power plant fleet will create jobs, promote economic and health benefits for our communities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are delighted to have NRG as our partner for this new era in energy generation.”
The project has received a loan guarantee of up to $1.237 billion from the DOE’s Loan Programs Office, which supports the deployment of commercial technologies along with innovative technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. Clean, renewable power from California Valley Solar Ranch will be sold to PG&E through 25-year power purchase agreements that have been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.