Salt River Project contracts with sPower on 45-MW solar project

The Salt River Project announced Nov. 20 a 21-year power purchase agreement for 45 MW of solar photovoltaic energy from a facility to be built near Florence, Arizona, in 2015.

SRP will purchase all of the solar energy produced at the Sandstone Solar Power Plant, which will be constructed and owned by Utah-based independent power producer sPower. SRP Deputy General Manager John Sullivan said the price SRP will pay for power from the community-scale solar plant is very near SRP’s average cost of energy.

“This opportunity best represents SRP’s goal to acquire the most cost-effective clean, renewable resources for the benefit of all of our customers,” said Sullivan. “In time, the price we will pay for energy from the Sandstone Solar Plant will actually be less than some of our traditional resources.”

The 21-year agreement is valued at around $65m and the price SRP will pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from the facility is about 5.3 cents. The average on-peak market price for electricity is about 4 cents per kWh.

Combined with the Copper Crossing Solar Ranch in Florence, the Queen Creek Solar Farm and a solar tracking system at ASU Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, SRP will soon have about 85 MW of solar energy generated from local community-scale solar facilities.

The Sandstone project will be constructed on approximately 300 acres and will utilize more than 500,000 photovoltaic modules mounted on a single-axis tracking system that follows the sun, allowing the panels to more efficiently capture energy as the sun moves throughout the sky. Officials at sPower plan to have the facility commercially available by December 2015.

“The Sandstone project is an example of why community-scale solar projects represent a bright future for renewable energy,” said Ryan Creamer, sPower’s CEO. “We’re pleased to partner with SRP and look forward to building a solar energy facility that supports SRP’s sustainability goals.”

The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20% of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020. Currently, SRP is ahead of schedule – providing more than 12% of retail energy needs with sustainable resources, which include solar, wind and geothermal energy, hydropower and conservation and energy-efficiency measures.

SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the nation, serving about 990,000 electric customers in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. SRP is also the largest provider of water to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, delivering about 800,000 acre-feet annually to agricultural, urban and municipal water users.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, with offices in San Francisco and New York, sPower is a leading independent power producer that owns and/or operates more than 130 utility and distributed electrical generation systems across the United States. With greater than a gigawatt between construction and pipeline, sPower is actively buying renewable assets in any stage of development in North America and the UK. It is a portfolio company of Fir Tree Partners, a leading global investment fund.

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.