CPS Energy marks continued rollout of 400 MW of OCI Solar Power projects

CPS Energy out of Texas, in marking its progress so far on solar development, said on May 26 that OCI Solar Power and its partners, Mission Solar Energy, Sun Action Trackers, KACO new energy and Mortenson Construction, have created nearly 600 jobs in and around San Antonio and generated $134 million in capital expenditures since 2012.

These endeavors exceed milestone agreements set with CPS Energy and allow the OCI consortium to continue building renewable power generation for this municipal utility, including Alamo 6, a 110-MW solar farm currently being developed and set to be online in late 2016.

“When we started this initiative, we knew the potential of its economic boost for our community and today we’re extremely satisfied with the results,” said Cris Eugster, CPS Energy Executive Vice President and Chief Generation and Strategy Officer. “OCI Solar Power and its companies are valuable New Energy Economy partners. The consortium’s use of innovation and technology has had a tremendous impact on our local economy and our continued development of renewable energy in San Antonio.”

In 2012, CPS Energy signed a first-of-its-kind purchase power and economic development agreement with OCI Solar Power to build 400 MW of solar power while creating 800 jobs and an economic impact of $700 million. Since then, four farms and 90 MW have been created and put into commercial operation. A fifth farm will be online later this year. Many of the farms use high-efficiency solar modules produced by Mission Solar Energy, advanced tracking devices developed by Sun Action Trackers, and solar photovoltaic inverters produced by KACO. Mortenson Construction has built each farm and will build the remaining three farms.

“We are proud to partner with CPS Energy as we grow the OCI family here in San Antonio, providing solid, good-paying jobs to our community,” said S.H. Yoon, president and CEO of OCI Solar Power. “We hope to continue to exceed expectations as we work to provide San Antonio with 400 MW of solar energy. Ultimately, we hope that San Antonio is known throughout the nation and the world as a hub for innovative, quality solar products and services.”

Last September, OCI Solar Power opened the Mission Solar Energy manufacturing facility at Brooks City Base on the city’s South Side. The 240,000 square foot facility is the first commercial manufacturer of N-type solar cells and modules in the United States. Sun Action Trackers operates a 38,000-square foot facility on the north side. KACO recently expanded its manufacturing space off Binz-Engleman Road from 56,000 square feet to more than 86,000 square feet.

Alamo 5 is well along on construction, with Alamo 6 and 7 up next

In a separate May 18 announcement, CPS Energy updated the construction progress for the 95-MW Alamo 5 project. The first four Alamo solar farms are now producing 90 MW of clean power – with the largest producing 41 MW. The farm at the town of Uvalde, called “Alamo 5,” will eclipse the first four combined and will be complete later this year. Two more farms are on the way by 2017.

Roughly half of the Alamo 5 farm was built over the last eight months, despite the challenges of rocks, rain and rattlesnakes, CPS Energy noted. Large steel assemblies, known in the industry as “trackers” and manufactured by San Antonio-based Sun Action Trackers, line much of the acreage like steel tree trunks. In the end, there will be 9,000 of these steel trees, each holding a canopy of 42 silicon solar panels. Many of these panels were produced in San Antonio at the new Mission Solar Energy manufacturing facility.

“This farm is much like a steel forest,” said Scott Kaminski, OCI Solar Power’s project manager for Alamo 5. “The steel structures are actually quite innovative. The design allows us to build each tracker quickly and efficiently. When you have thousands to build, such innovation can be beneficial to the completion of the project.”

“The best solar sites are close to transmission lines or sub-stations, are flat and relatively unobstructed, are close to transportation links and, of course, have the best possible solar irradiation,” says S.H. Yoon, President and CEO of OCI Solar Power. “We found an excellent site in Uvalde that fits these criteria. It will be a tremendous solar farm.”

OCI Solar Power developed Alamo 4, a 39-MW farm already in commercial operation, in Brackettville, just west of Uvalde.

CPS Energy, through power purchase agreements with several solar farm operators including OCI Solar Power, currently has 134 MW of sun power in commercial operation – the most in Texas.

OCI Solar Power is a leader in the solar power industry, providing innovation and development for solar power plants in communities in the United States and globally.OCI Solar Power has more than 400 MW of solar photovoltaic projects currently in operation and under development. San Antonio, Texas-based OCI Solar Power is owned by Atlanta-based OCI Enterprises.

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.