Details emerge on Enbridge Purchase of Ontario Solar Farm

by Terrence Murray, Chicago - October 5, 2009

Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline operator, is set to pay First Solar some C$100 million ($93.14 million) for a 20 megawatt, Ontario-based PV solar farm, an industry source tells us.

In the press release announcing the sale, Calgary-based Enbridge says it plans to invest about C$100 million in solar energy for 2009, which only has three months left. The source tells GER that the “amount quoted in the release is a good guidance on how much the company will pay for the project.”

The solar farm, located in Sarnia, Ont., is 65 percent complete and will sell its output as part of a 20 year power purchase agreement with the Ontario Power Authority once it goes live at the end of the year.

First Solar acquired the project last spring via its $400 million purchase of California-based OptiSolar. At the time, we noted that First Solar was entering the plant operating business. However, it now looks like the Tempe, Ariz. company — the world’s largest maker of thin-film PVs — is eager to monetize these assets it bought on the cheap at the peak of the global financial crisis.

Are other former OptiSolar projects on the auction block? Perhaps the 550 megawatt in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. First Solar says they are always looking for investors, but declined to provide details on Topaz.

As part of the deal , First Solar will provide operation and maintenance services under a long-term contract. Enbridge and First Solar could also develop other projects at the Sarnia site.

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has set out to completely stop using coal-burning power plants by 2014. It is counting on green energy to make up for some of the lost output.

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