First Solar, Sempra Beef Up Solar Power Plant Partnership

Sempra Generation, part of Sempra Energy, is expanding its solar photovoltaic power production in Nevada, teaming up, once again, with First Solar. The duo are adding on an additional 48 MW to their initial 10 MW, which they began working on last year, finishing up construction in December.

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Work on the new plant could start this year, with operations beginning in 2010. Once it’s up and running, Sempra said the combined 58-MW installation would be the largest photovoltaic solar power plant in North America, although it’ll pale in comparison to some of the projects that First Solar has in its newly-acquired pipeline.

The new solar project, called Copper Mountain Solar, will be adjacent to Sempra’s existing solar plant, El Dorado Solar, near Boulder City, Nev. Copper Mountain will be able to supply enough electricity for more than 30,000 homes, according to Sempra. When paired up with the 167,000 photovoltaic panels at the El Dorado Solar plant, the facilities will have nearly 1 million photovoltaic panels.

The cost of the new plant and the financial terms of the deal between Sempra and First Solar were not disclosed, but Sempra will own and operate the new plant, as it already does with the first plant. But construction of Copper Mountain is also contingent on Sempra finding a utility to buy the power, as well as approval of state and local regulators. Pacific Gas and Electric (PCG) snapped up the output of the first plant under a 20-year power purchase agreement signed late last year.

Photo of El Dorado Solar power plant courtesy of First Solar.

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