Representatives from NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NRG), MidAmerican Solar and First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) gathered with federal and local officials today at the 290 megawatt (AC) Agua Caliente solar project in Yuma County, Ariz., to celebrate the project's first 100 megawatts (MW) being delivered to the grid, making it North America's largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant in operation.
Once completed in 2014, Agua Caliente will be one of the world's largest PV power plants, supplying enough clean, renewable solar energy to power more than 225,000 homes. The project's construction phase is creating an average of 400 jobs, with over 80% of the workforce coming from Arizona.
"Getting to this milestone of our first 100 megawatts at Agua Caliente illustrates the success of public-private partnerships to stimulate the construction of these large-scale solar projects, creating hundreds of construction jobs and providing clean, renewable power to thousands of homes," said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar. "Large-scale projects like this also help drive down the price of solar, which will make it even more cost-competitive with conventional electricity generation in the near future."
Today's event included site tours and media Q&A led by project owners NRG and MidAmerican Solar, and project developer First Solar—three companies with complementary development capabilities and strong commitment to expanding the benefits of clean energy to more Americans.
"Agua Caliente will provide a positive impact on the environment and create jobs. Projects such as Agua Caliente will play a central role in our nation's long-term electric energy supply and in our national transition to cleaner energy sources," said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar.
First Solar designed and is constructing the project using its advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules and will operate and maintain the facility for NRG and MidAmerican Solar. Pacific Gas and Electric Company has a long-term power purchase agreement for all of the project's generation, which is projected to offset approximately 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years, the equivalent of taking over 40,000 cars off the road annually.
"First Solar is proud of the rapid progress we are making to bring Agua Caliente's clean power to the grid," said Jim Lamon, First Solar senior vice president of Engineering, Procurement and Construction and Operations and Maintenance. "We are very pleased to be working on this and other projects with energy leaders like NRG and MidAmerican Solar. And we're grateful for the robust support at the local, state and federal levels that enabled us to realize this project."
Agua Caliente was named Solar Project of the Year by Renewable Energy World, a leading industry magazine, and PV Project of the Year by Solar Power Generation USA, the industry's leading utility-scale solar power conference.