First Solar is Developing a 550-MW Solar Power Project in California

March 17, 2010

Aerial photo of a flat desert area covered with line after line of solar panels, creating a large grid of dark rectangles.

First Solar has a track record of building large solar power plants, including this 10-megawatt facility in Boulder City, Nevada.
Credit: First Solar

First Solar, Inc. announced on March 9 a power purchase agreement to supply California's Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) with 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable power from Desert Sunlight, a 550-megawatt (MW) utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar power facility that the company is developing in Southern California. The other 250-MW portion of the project is already under contract to Southern California Edison (SCE). The facility, near Desert Center in eastern Riverside County, California, will produce enough power for about 160,000 homes, using the company's thin-film PV modules made from cadmium telluride. First Solar's power purchase agreements with PG&E and SCE are subject to the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission. The project's permit application has been fast tracked by the Bureau of Land Management, and First Solar plans to break ground this year for project, which is expected to be completed as early as 2013. First Solar recently completed the largest PV project in the state, and the second largest in the country, a 21-MW power plant in Blythe, which is also providing power to SCE. See the First Solar press releases on its Desert Sunlight project and the Blythe solar plant.

SCE and PG&E are also moving forward with other PV projects. SCE, which announced plans in 2008 to install 250 MW of solar panels on commercial buildings, made good on that promise on March 10 by signing a contract with SunPower Corporation for up to 200 MW of solar panels. Meanwhile, PG&E has contracted with Agua Caliente Solar, a subsidiary of NextLight Renewable Power, for 290 MW of PV power. The Agua Caliente project, to be located in Yuma County, Arizona, is PG&E's second major contract with a subsidiary of NextLight. In June 2009, the companies announced an agreement for 230 MW of PV power from a project in Antelope Valley, California. Both projects are subject to approval by the CPUC. The Agua Caliente project is expected to start producing power in mid-2012, with the project becoming fully operational by late 2014. See press releases from SunPower and PG&E.