NJ Power Company Eyeing Solar Acquisitions

by Terrence Murray - November 5, 2010

A Princeton, N.J.-based� power company is on the acquisition trail to significantly boost its solar generation portfolio.

NRG Energy says it could invest as much as $600 million over the next four years to add 500 megawatts to its current solar capacity by acquiring new projects and developing its excisting pipeline, said CEO David Crane during the company’s third-quarter earnings call.

Crane told analysts that equity returns in the solar space “are as attractive as I have seen in 20 years in the energy business.”

Cash-rich NRG says it could use roughly half of� the $1.5 billion it currently has on hand (around $700 million) to finance its solar expansion.

Currently, NRG has about 434.5 megawatts of solar projects that are either operating or under construction.

They include an operating 20 megawatts PV facility in Blythe, Calif., and the 22.5 megawatts Avenal� project, , in Kings County, California.� Also, last week NRG inked a $300 million equity investment in BrightSource Energy’s 392 megawatts Ivanpah project.Depending on the project�s final costs, NRG could end up controlling anywhere� between 40 percent and 60 percent of the power plant.

In June NRG� purchased nine solar projects in California and Arizona from Arclight Capital Partners.

NRG also has an ongoing partnership with utility-scale developer eSolar to construct power plants that combined could generate up to� 500 megawatts of electricity. However, since announcing the partnership, more than a year ago, the two companies have yet to announce any new projects.

Yesterday, NRG reported� third quarter earnings of $221 million on revenues of $2.69 billion During the same quarter last year, the company registered earnings of $272 million.

Photo: PictureBuilder, Flickr

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