Southern Company today announced the acquisition of the company's largest solar installation – the 139-megawatt (MW) Campo Verde Solar Project – by subsidiary Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy from First Solar, Inc.
The Southern Power-Turner Renewable Energy partnership's fifth solar acquisition and its first solar project in California, the Campo Verde Solar Project will more than double Southern Company's solar capacity and is expected to generate enough electricity to power nearly 48,000 homes.
"When it comes to developing the full portfolio of energy resources, Southern Company is developing solutions – not rhetoric," said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning . "By acquiring the Campo Verde Solar Project – our largest solar installation to date – we're more than doubling our solar capacity and increasing the diversity of our generation fleet."
The Campo Verde Solar Project will be built, operated and maintained by First Solar, a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems utilizing its advanced thin-film modules.
Ted Turner , owner of Turner Renewable Energy, teamed with Southern Company through a subsidiary in January 2010 to form a strategic alliance to pursue development of renewable energy projects in the United States. The partnership has primarily focused on developing and investing in large-scale solar PV projects in the Southwest, where solar resources are most available.
The partnership's first project was the acquisition and development of the 30-MW Cimarron Solar Facility, also built by First Solar, on land adjacent to Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch near Raton, N.M. The partnership made three other purchases prior to acquiring the Campo Verde Solar Project – the 20-MW Apex Solar Facility and the 30-MW Spectrum Solar Facility, both of which are located in Clark County, Nev., and the 2.5-MW Granville Solar Facility in Granville County, N.C.
"This partnership was created to explore large-scale solar power generation projects, and acquiring this facility is another positive step in achieving our goal," said Turner. "Turner Renewable Energy is excited to be a partner in this project and to continue our collaboration with Southern Company."
According to an independent study conducted for Imperial County, Calif., the Campo Verde Solar Project will have an economic impact to the Imperial County area totaling about $239 million over the next 30 years. It is expected to contribute $17.5 million in local tax revenue. First Solar estimates the project will provide an average of 250 jobs during the construction period.
Construction of the plant began in December 2012 and commercial operation is targeted for fall 2013. The Campo Verde Solar Project is located on a 1,443-acre site in Imperial County.
"We are pleased that Southern Company and Turner Renewable Energy have once again chosen a First Solar project to add to their renewable energy portfolio," said James F. Cook , First Solar director of Project Development. "The Campo Verde project is another state-of-the-art design which seamlessly integrates First Solar's advanced thin-film solar modules with our leading power plant controls and grid-integration technology. By leading the project from development through engineering, construction and operations, we are able to offer the highest performance and greatest reliability."
Electricity generated by the plant will serve a 20-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.
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.
Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is among the largest wholesale energy providers in the Southeast, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. Southern Power and its subsidiaries own and operate more than 8,600 MW of generating capacity with facilities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and New Mexico, and with an additional 30 MW under construction in Nevada.
First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic solar systems which use its advanced thin-film modules. The company's integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar's renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment.
Turner Renewable Energy is wholly owned by Ted Turner . Turner Enterprises, Inc., a private company, manages the business interests, land holdings and investments of Ted Turner , including the oversight of 2 million acres in 12 states and in Argentina, and more than 55,000 bison.