Southern, Turner acquire nearly-completed 15-MW solar project in California

Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) subsidiary Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy on Oct. 26 announced the acquisition of the 15-MW Morelos del Sol Solar Facility in California from Solar Frontier Americas.

“This acquisition with longtime partner Turner Renewable Energy strengthens Southern Company’s position as a national leader in renewables,” said Southern Co. Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. “The acquisition of the Morelos del Sol Solar Facility aligns with our company’s broader commitment to best meeting customers’ energy needs.”

Southern Power’s eighth solar acquisition in California, the Morelos del Sol Solar Facility will be located on 138 acres and is expected to consist of 111,744 thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar modules mounted on single-axis trackers. Located in Kern County, the project has created approximately 300 construction jobs.

DEPCOM Power is providing engineering, procurement and construction services and will also operate and maintain the facility for Southern Power. Construction of the plant began in July, and commercial operation is expected in late November. The electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the facility will be sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric.

Ted Turner, owner of Turner Renewable Energy, teamed with Southern Co. through a subsidiary in January 2010 to form a strategic alliance to pursue development of renewable energy projects in the United States. The partnership has primarily focused on developing and investing in large-scale solar PV projects in the Southwest, where solar resources are most available. This is the company’s eighth solar project with Turner Renewable Energy and brings the partnership’s overall solar capacity to more than 320 MW.

“The acquisition of the Morelos del Sol facility is another important step in advancing the development of solar technologies,” said Turner. “Turner Renewable Energy is pleased to continue our growing relationship as a strategic partner with Southern Company, further surpassing the milestone of 300 megawatts in solar capacity.”

Southern Power assembled its renewable portfolio – with approximately 1,650 MW of generating capacity ownership either already in operation or under development – through the strategic development of 22 solar, wind and biomass projects across the U.S. In all, the Southern Co. system has added or announced more than 3,600 MW of renewable projects since 2012. The Morelos del Sol Solar Facility fits Southern Power’s business strategy of growing its wholesale business through the acquisition and construction of generating assets substantially covered by long-term contracts.

This project has been part of Solar Frontier’s 280-MW U.S. solar project development pipeline. Solar Frontier Americas Development LLC, a division of Solar Frontier Americas, is comprised of an experienced development team with offices in San Francisco, California and Reno, Nevada. The company said in an Oct. 26 statement that it currently has nine PV projects in various stages of development.

Charles Pimentel, COO of Solar Frontier Americas, commented: “Southern Company is a leader in renewable energy development and we are pleased a company of its stature is purchasing Solar Frontier’s project.”

Solar Frontier Americas Development develops PV projects installed with Solar Frontier’s advanced CIS technology, a solar module that generates higher energy yields (kilowatt-hours per kilowatt peak) in real-world environments than conventional crystalline silicon technologies. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the development team partners with solar system component suppliers, EPCs, and other developers to deliver optimized, high-yield solar plants.

Parent Solar Frontier K.K. is a 100% subsidiary of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. Solar Frontier today develops and manufactures CIS (denoting copper, indium, selenium) thin-film solar modules for customers in all sectors around the world. Solar Frontier is headquartered in Tokyo, with offices in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East.

Southern Power and its subsidiaries own or have the rights to 31 facilities operating or under construction in nine states with more than 10,200 MW of generating capacity in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas.

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

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.