NRG Solar and SunPower, to Build Solar Ranch in California Valley

NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc., and SunPower Corp. announced agreements to construct a 250-megawatt (MW) California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo County next year. The solar power plant is expected to create approximately 350 jobs, will power about 100,000 homes and, once completed, will be one of the largest photovoltaic solar power plants in the world. NRG Solar plans to invest up to $450 million of equity in the project over the next four years. This is subject to final total project cost and negotiation of the financing terms and conditions.

Depending on certain conditions, NRG will assume ownership and finance the California Valley Solar Ranch. SunPower, on the other hand, will continue to develop the project. It will design, build, operate and maintain the power plant.

Construction is expected to start in the second half of 2011, with parts of the project to operate by the end of 2011. The balance is coming on line in 2012 and 2013. The solar power plant will help California achieve its 33% renewable portfolio standard.

“[The] California Valley Solar Ranch will be an important component of our multi-technology portfolio of clean, zero-emission solar power facilities,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar. He said that this will be accomplished together with a reliable partner that is an expert in this field.

“SunPower has the proven technology and experience building solar power plants around the world to deliver a well-designed solar project that will be a major contributor to helping California meet its ambitious renewable portfolio standard by the end of the decade.”

Howard Wenger, president of the utility and power plants business group as SunPower, has this to say, “this partnership with NRG Solar and the DOE represents a major milestone in delivering clean and renewable solar power to California’s consumers.” He added that SunPower has been consistent with developing projects that are environmentally responsible.

“We are delighted to have found in NRG a partner that shares our vision to build a solar power plant in San Luis Obispo County that enhances the local economy, protects local habitat and generates emission-free solar power for California,” he said.

The project is currently seeking a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program Office. The DOE has always supported the accelerated commercial use of innovative energy technologies to help sustain economic growth, yield environmental benefits, and produce a more stable and secure energy supply.

“The DOE is playing a critical leadership role in supporting renewable energy that provides economic and environmental benefits, as well as a secure, stable energy supply in the U.S,” Wenger said.