California: 250 MW solar ranch to be installed

Construction is scheduled to begin on the California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo County in the second half of next year, with the first parts becoming operational by the end of 2011. The rest of the plant is set to be completed in 2012 and 2013.

It has been said that when fully operational, the plant will help California achieve its 33 percent renewable portfolio standard. Additionally, it is hoped that around 350 jobs will be created during the plant’s building phase, which when completed, should provide enough electricity to power about 100,000 homes.

Under the agreement, NRG has said it will, subject to certain conditions, assume all ownership and financing responsibilities for the California Valley Solar Ranch. It has already announced plans to invest up to USD$450 million of equity in the project over the next four years, subject to final total project cost and negotiation of the financing terms and conditions.

Additionally, a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program Office is currently being sought. It has already provided a draft term sheet for the project, which is said to be a significant milestone in the process leading to a conditional loan guarantee commitment.

SunPower, on the other hand, will continue to develop the project, and will design, build, operate and maintain the plant.

The California Valley Solar Ranch has executed 25-year power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas & Electric for delivery of 250 MWs. The power purchase agreements have been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The closing of the NRG and SunPower agreements announced is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and the completion of development, including obtaining required permitting and regulatory approvals.