Exclusive: California Utility-Scale Developer Eyes Project Sale

by Terrence Murray - October 13, 2010

A Southern California developer of utility-scale solar power plants has begun preliminary discussions with potential investors about acquiring stakes in two solar projects which are expected to cost a combined $1 billion to develop.

SolarReserve, the Santa Monica, California solar thermal developer, is considering selling equity stakes in two flagship projects. The company has begun initial discussions with both strategic and financial investors, SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith tells G.E.R.

The projects are the 100-megawatt Tonopah solar project in Nevada and the 150-megawatt Rice project in California’s Riverside County. Both facilities are expected to be fully permitted by the end of the year. Tonopah is�backed by a 25-year power purchase agreement with Nevada utility NV Energy. Rice is similarly backed by a 25-year PPA with Pacific Gas and Electric. Each project is expected to cost $500 million to develop.

Smith declined to name the investors because discussions are still in the preliminary stages. However he did note that the eventual investors could either buy a minority or majority stake in each of the projects. Proceeds would fund a portion of the construction costs and the balance of the project costs by long-term bank debt.

SolarReserve has applied for Department of Energy loan guarantees to back the debt financing.� The guarantees could support up to 8o percent of the projects’ respective costs. In 2008 the company raised $140 million as a part of a Series B round of funding.

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