Southern, Turner begin commercial ops of 139-MW solar project

The largest solar installation acquired by Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) subsidiary Southern Power in partnership with Turner Renewable Energy, the Campo Verde Solar Facility, began commercial operation on Oct. 25.

The 139-MW solar photovoltaic (PV) installation in Imperial County, Calif., more than doubles Southern Co.’s solar capacity, consists of nearly 2.3 million thin-film PV modules and is expected to generate enough electricity to power nearly 48,000 homes, Southern said in a Nov. 1 statement.

“Southern Company is building for America’s energy future – and solar is an important part of our continued effort to provide clean, safe, reliable and affordable power,” said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Fanning. “Completing the Campo Verde Solar Facility helps us strategically incorporate more renewables into our diverse energy portfolio.”

The plant, located on nearly 1,400 acres, was built and is operated and maintained by First Solar, a leading global provider of comprehensive PV solar systems. The PV modules use First Solar’s patented thin-film technology and employ a fixed-tilt design.

Ted Turner, owner of Turner Renewable Energy, teamed with Southern Co. through a subsidiary in January 2010 to form a strategic alliance to pursue the development of renewable energy projects in the United States. The partnership has primarily focused on acquiring solar PV projects where solar resources are most favorable. 

In April 2013, the Campo Verde Solar Facility became the fifth project jointly acquired by Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy. Including this facility, the partnership has acquired more than 220 MW of solar generation in four states.

Electricity generated by the Campo Verde Solar Facility will serve a 20-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

The Campo Verde Solar Facility fits Southern Power’s strategy of growing the wholesale business in targeted markets by acquiring generating assets and building new units, the output of which is significantly covered by long-term contracts. California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. The RPS program requires investor-owned utilities, publicly-owned utilities, electric service providers and community choice aggregators to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33% of retail sales by the end of 2020.

Southern Power and its subsidiaries own and operate 15 facilities in eight states, with more than 8,700 MW of capacity operating in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.