Southern subsidiary makes another solar purchase

A Southern (NYSE:SO) subsidiary said April 16 that it was purchasing a controlling interest in a 32-MW solar power project in California.

Southern Power announced that it is buying the controlling interest in a solar development from First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR), which will retain a stake in the Lost Hills and Blackwell solar sites.

The Lost Hills-Blackwell Solar Facility spans two sites – the 20-MW Lost Hills Solar Facility and the 12-MW Blackwell Solar Facility – comprising a combined 308 acres of adjoining land in Kern County, Calif.

The project consists of more than 454,000 of First Solar’s advanced technology PV solar modules mounted on single-axis tracking tables. In its first year, Lost Hills-Blackwell will be capable of producing enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 11,000 homes, Southern said in a news release.

In papers filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a First Solar affiliate has said that Lost Hills and Blackwell should both be in service by summer of this year. FERC has already approved the First Solar transaction with Southern Power.

Southern Power will control 51% of the project and First Solar the rest, said a Southern spokesperson.

Southern Power is the non-utility generation provider owned by Atlanta-based Southern.

Construction of the project began in April 2014, and is expected to be completed shortly after this acquisition. The facility will be operated and maintained by First Solar.

The electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the facility will be sold under long-term power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Roseville Electric.

Southern Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Fanning and First Solar’s Vice President of Project Development for the Western United States Brian Kunz, both praised the expanding partnership between the two companies.

“In addition to assets Southern Power has acquired from First Solar, we have worked together directly on construction and supply of technology for projects across the United States.”  Kunz said.

With the addition of this and other announced projects, Southern Power will own approximately 990 MW of renewable energy generating capacity that is either already in operation or under development.

Southern Power recently announced an agreement to acquire the company’s largest renewable electric generating plant and first wind project – the 299-MW Kay Wind facility.

In addition, the company has previously announced the acquisition of seven solar projects in partnership with Turner Renewable Energy and one solar project in partnership with First Solar.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.