ATLANTA, USA: Southern Co. subsidiary Southern Power announced the acquisition of the 150-megawatt (MW) Solar Gen 2 solar facility in California from First Solar, Inc. As the largest solar facility in the Southern Power portfolio, Solar Gen 2 is expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 60,000 average California homes.
"Our strategic renewable development has earned Southern Company a reputation as a national leader in solar," said Southern Co. chairman, president and CEO, Thomas A. Fanning. "Expanding our partnership with First Solar - a global renewable leader - will help us continue to develop a more diverse energy mix for America."
The Solar Gen 2 project spans three sites - each of which is approximately a 50-MW grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) system - comprising a combined 1,451 acres of land in Imperial County, California. The project will consist of more than one million thin-film PV solar modules mounted on single-axis tracking tables manufactured by First Solar.
"We value the strong, successful track record we have with Southern Power," said First Solar CEO, Jim Hughes. "We're pleased to continue that relationship with Solar Gen 2 and we look forward to further opportunities to work together."
The Solar Gen 2 facility is being built and will be operated and maintained by First Solar. Construction of the project began in 2013. Completion of the project is expected to occur later in the fourth quarter 2014. Southern Power will initially own 100 percent of the project, with First Solar agreeing to acquire a minority interest subject to certain terms and upon fulfillment of certain conditions.
Electricity generated by the plant is contracted to serve a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), a subsidiary of Sempra Energy. Headquartered in San Diego, SDG&E provides energy service to 3.4 million people through 1.4 million electric meters and 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.
Southern Power has previously acquired seven solar facilities with Turner Renewable Energy, with Southern Power's ownership of the facilities totaling 262 MW. The acquisition of Solar Gen 2 is expected to increase the total Southern Power-owned solar capacity to 338 MW. The total generation capacity of the eight projects is anticipated to be 441 MW.
The acquisition fits Southern Power's business strategy of growing the wholesale business in targeted markets through acquiring generating assets and building new units, the output of which is significantly covered by long-term contracts.
California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. The RPS program requires investor-owned utilities, publicly owned utilities, electric service providers and community choice aggregators to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33 percent of retail sales by the end of 2020.