Southern buys controlling stake in 300-MW Desert Stateline solar facility

Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) subsidiary Southern Power on Sept. 2 announced the acquisition of a controlling interest in the company’s largest solar asset – the 300-MW Desert Stateline Facility in California – from First Solar, which will retain the remaining interest in the project.

This project represents Southern Power’s and First Solar’s fourth shared acquisition. Southern Power’s seventh solar acquisition in California, Desert Stateline will be located on 1,685 acres of federally managed public land in San Bernardino County and is expected to consist of approximately 3.2 million of First Solar’s thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar modules mounted on fixed-tilt tables.

“The acquisition of our system’s largest solar facility builds on our proven reputation as a national renewable energy leader,” said Southern Co. Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. “By continuing to leverage Southern Company’s and First Solar’s complementary strengths, we are accelerating the development of solar as an important component of a diverse fuel mix now and in the future.”

“Desert Stateline is an exciting addition to the series of projects on which we’ve partnered with Southern Power. Our strategic relationship capitalizes on each company’s core competencies, as well as the synergies obtainable though informed, enlightened collaboration,” said First Solar CEO Jim Hughes. “We are actively discussing ways to continue and broaden this relationship.”

First Solar is building and will operate and maintain the Desert Stateline Facility. Construction of the plant began in October 2014 and it is expected to be completed in phases. The plant is slated to be fully operational in the third quarter of 2016. The electricity and associated renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by the facility will be sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison.

Southern Power assembled its renewable portfolio – now totaling more than 1,450 MW of capacity ownership either already in operation or under development – through the strategic development of 20 solar, wind and biomass projects across the United States. The Southern Co. system has added or announced more than 3,300 MW of renewable projects since 2012.

Southern Power is a leading U.S. wholesale energy provider meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. Southern Power and its subsidiaries own or have the rights to 29 facilities operating or under construction in nine states with more than 10,000 MW of generating capacity in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas.

First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology.

With more than 4.5 million customers and approximately 46,000 MW of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Co. owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications.

Incidentally, on Sept. 1, Desert Stateline LLC filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for market-based rate authority. The application noted: “Stateline is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Power Company (‘SPC’). The Facility is currently under construction and will consist of solar panels with a capacity of approximately 300 MW. The Facility will interconnect to the SCE service area and deliver energy to the 220 kV Ivanpah Substation (California Independent System Operator Corporation (‘CAISO’) point of interconnection and delivery) through a gen-tie line spanning approximately 2.7 miles (the ‘Interconnection Line’).

“Stateline is in the final stages of constructing a 300 megawatt (‘MW’) alternating current solar power plant in eastern San Bernardino County, California, approximately two miles from the California-Nevada border (the ‘Facility’). Upon completion, 100% of the output of the Facility will be committed and subject to the market control of Southern California Edison Company (‘SCE’), under a 20-year power purchase agreement (‘PPA’). The Facility, which includes a generation tie-line as part of its interconnection facilities, is expected to initially synchronize to the grid on November 1, 2015.”

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.