Google, KKR team with Recurrent Energy on six solar farms

Google and private equity group KKR have inked a deal to invest a reported $400 million in six solar plants being built in the U.S. states of California and Arizona by Sharp Corp.-owned company Recurrent Energy LLC.

Google said on its blog that the six plants, including five in southern California and one in Arizona, are expected to go online early next year and will have a combined capacity of 106 MW, enough to power some 17,000 homes.

The Internet giant said it would invest $80 million as part of the agreement. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the total joint investment, pegged at $400 million, was a combination of cash and debt.

The deal marks Google’s 14th investment in renewable energy and the second time it has partnered with KKR and Recurrent on solar projects. In 2011, Google and KKR invested in four Recurrent solar farms south of Sacramento as part of a deal valued at $350 million. Google has so far investment more than $1 billion in wind and solar endeavors.

The San Francisco-based Recurrent, which will continue to operate the plants, has signed long-term power supply agreements with three buyers.

Google is a major solar investor. Last month the Northern Californian company announced a $103 million investment in a new solar power plant, part of a partnership with Silver Ridge Power.

That project, the 265 MW Mount Signal Solar utility-scale PV plant in Imperial County, California, is expected to come online in 2014, with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) already agreeing to a long-term power purchase agreement with the plant.