SunPower breaks ground on 135 MW Quinto Solar Project

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SunPower has begun construction on the 135 MWdc Quinto Solar Project in Merced County, California.

The San Jose-based company said it expects to own and operate the solar power plant during construction. SunPower has already signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison for the generated power.

"The advantages of SunPower’s technology, combined with our global footprint of more than 4 GW of operating solar systems, give us confidence to deploy a holdco strategy with regard to Quinto," said SunPower President and CEO Tom Werner. "This strategy allows SunPower to realize the return on investment from the leading power-producing performance of our technology, and reduces the risk to potential buyers if we decide to sell the operational plant."

Including the Quinto power plant, SunPower has more than 500 MW of residential, commercial and utility solar assets under contract around the world that it may choose to either own for a period of time before a sale or continue owning it during the operational phase of the project.

SunPower said it expected to improve project margins and drive higher shareholder returns by capturing the material benefit of its lower system degradation rates, long term project life as well as benefitting from distributions from the project as an equity owner.

The group added that it anticipated the creation of some 295 jobs during peak construction of the Quinto project, with approximately $80 million in local economic impact. SunPower estimates that more than $5 million of tax revenues will also be generated as a result of the project. After completion – scheduled in late 2015 — the Quinto project is expected to generate enough electricity for some 40,000 homes.

SunPower is constructing a SunPower Oasis Power Plant system at the approximately 1,000- acre (405-hectare) site. Oasis is a fully-integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered to rapidly deploy utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use.

In related news, SunPower has secured $44.5 million in financing for its solar lease program from Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital (HASI).