25-MW McHenry Solar Project completed

The 25-MW McHenry Solar Plant in Modesto, Calif., has been completed.

The Modesto Irrigation District (MID) is buying the power plant’s output from K Road Power Holdings, which owns the plant. The project was designed and constructed by SunPower Corp. The project is the third for Sunpower in recent weeks, representing more than 60 MW, with much more to come.

“The McHenry Solar Project takes advantage of our unlimited solar resource to provide clean, reliable electricity to customers, while helping MID comply with California’s renewable energy requirements for utilities,” said MID Assistant General Manager of Electric Resources Roger VanHoy.  “When MID buys power generated from utility-scale solar, our whole community shares the promise of emission-free energy from the sun.”

The project created nearly 150 construction jobs, and is generating the equivalent amount of power for approximately 6,000 homes.

MID has a 25-year power purchase agreement to buy the output from K Road Power. MID is a publicly owned utility that provides electricity and water to California’s Central Valley. K Road Power is an independent power developer focused on developing, financing, owning and operating utility‐scale solar projects. SunPower also has an operations and maintenance contract.

At the site, SunPower installed the SunPower Oasis Power Plant product, which is fully integrated, modular solar technology engineered to rapidly deploy utility-scale solar projects while minimizing land use.

That technology was also recently deployed at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. The 14-MW plant is generating the equivalent of more than 30% of China Lake’s annual energy load, helping to reduce costs by an estimated $13m over the next 20 years.

Using a long-term energy procurement authority, the power plant is the first federal agency project to be financed through a 20-year term solar power purchase agreement (PPA) that requires no upfront capital or maintenance obligations from the Navy, matches conventional project financing terms for solar power facilities, and allows the Navy to secure electricity at up to 30% below the rate available through shorter duration 10-year PPAs.

Also, last week, the first 22 MW of the 250-MW California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR), owned by NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG), started operations after construction has been ongoing for about a year.

SunPower is developing the plant for NRG after the integrated module manufacturer and project developer sold the project to NRG a little over a year ago.