Thin-film photovoltaic maker and plant developer First Solar has sold the 550-megawatt output of its Desert Sunlight photovoltaic solar project to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) — for the full release.
PG&E will buy 300 megawatts of electricity generated by Desert Sunlight as part of a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA). SCE will buy the balance of the plant’s expected output — 250 megawatts — under a 20-year PPA.
First Solar’s power purchase agreements with PG&E and SCE are subject to the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission.
Construction on Desert Sunlight, which is located near Desert Center in eastern Riverside County, Calif., is expected to start at the end of the year and the plant is scheduled to begin operating in 2013.
The two PPAs will make it easier for First Solar to eventually sell the asset. A company spokeswoman tells GER: “We’ve made it quite clear that we are not a plant operator and so I would imagine that we will look to sell [Desert Sunlight] the plant,” she says.
Over the past year First Solar sold a 21-megawatt solar project — backed by a long-term PPA with SCE in Blythe, Calif. — to NRG Energy. It also sold a 20-megawatt solar farm in Ontario to natural gas pipeline operator Enbridge for about C$100 million ($93.14 million). The project is backed by a 20-year PPA with the Ontario Power Authority.
First Solar has 1,700 megawatts of utility-scale power projects with power purchase agreements in North America.