Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) announced Dec. 23 the commercial operation of the 50-MW (ac) Hooper solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.
Xcel Energy is purchasing the power generated by the plant at cost-competitive rates under a power purchase agreement with SunPower.
“This expansion of our renewable portfolio in Colorado is yet another example of how Xcel Energy brings solar power to its customers,” said David Eves, president of Xcel’s Public Service Co. of Colorado. “We are adding large scale solar that competes with and surpasses other forms of generation alternatives, in terms of price, over the life of the project.”
SunPower designed and constructed the plant, and is now operating and maintaining it onsite, and monitoring power production from the company’s remote operations control center in Austin, Tex. More than 150 jobs were created at the project site during peak construction.
“Xcel Energy is providing leadership in the promotion of large scale solar power development, and demonstrating how renewable technologies are part of the solution to ensure the health of our economy and our environment,” said Jorg Heinemann, SunPower executive vice president, global power plants, customer operations and EPC. “SunPower’s high-efficiency solar PV technology is competitively-priced for power plant applications, fast to install, and reliably delivers clean power, particularly during peak demand hours.”
At the 320-acre site, SunPower installed a SunPower Oasis Power Plant system. Oasis is a fully integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use. The technology includes SunPower’s proprietary robotic solar panel cleaning capability that uses 75% less water than traditional cleaning methods and can help improve system performance by up to 15%.
SunPower has constructed two other solar power plants in the San Luis Valley that are also generating power for Xcel Energy’s Colorado customers. The 19-MW (ac) Greater Sandhill plant has been operating since 2010, and the 30-MW (ac) San Luis Valley Solar Ranch began delivering energy in 2011.
Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company that provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.5 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies in eight Western and Midwestern states.
SunPower provides a diverse group of customers with complete solar solutions and services. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, SunPower has dedicated, customer-focused employees in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America.