Xcel Energy and SunPower plan 50 MW Colorado PV plant

Californian solar company SunPower is set to jointly collaborate with Minneapolis-headquartered energy company Xcel Energy on the creation of a 50 MW solar PV plant in the U.S. state of Colorado.

The two companies are in talks to expand their PV portfolio with the project, which will be located on a 320-acre site in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Once complete and fully operational by the end of 2016, the plant will generate enough clean solar energy to power some 13,500 local households a year.

Both parties are in talks with local regulators in terms of securing the required permits, financing and interconnection rights but, once approved, construction will commence at the beginning of 2015 and will bring an estimated 100 jobs to the area at peak construction.

For its part, SunPower already has two operational solar PV plants in the San Luis Valley that already generate solar energy for Xcel Energy – a 19 MW plant in Greater Sandhill (operational since 2010), and a 30 MW plant in San Luis Valley Solar Ranch, which commenced operation in 2011. For this third plant, SunPower will design and build a SunPower Oasis Power Plant System, which is a fully integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use.

Once complete, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that this 50 MW plant will mitigate the effects of 127,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent to reducing the number of cars on Colorado’s roads by 483,000 over the next 20 years.

"We congratulate Xcel Energy for providing leadership in the promotion of large-scale solar power development, and for demonstrating how renewable technologies are part of the solution to ensure the health of our economy and our environment," said SunPower president for regions Howard Wenger.

The CEO of Xcel Energy subsidiary Public Service Co. of Colorado, David Eves, added: "This expansion of our renewable portfolio in Colorado is yet another example of how Xcel Energy brings solar power to its customers in the right way.

"We are adding large-scale solar that competes with and surpasses other forms of generation alternatives, in terms of price, over the life of the project. This benefits all of our customers – both environmentally and economically."