by Dave DeWitte
MidAmerican Energy Holdings has agreed to buy 49 percent of a $1.8 billion solar photovoltaic project under development in Arizona.
The Des Moines-based company said it will acquired the stake in the Agua Caliente project, one of the largest photovoltaic projects in the world, from NRG Energy.
The 290-megawtt project in Yuma County, Ariz., is being constructed by First Solar. It is supported by a long-term power purchase agreement from Pacific Gas and Electric for all its output, and by a $967 million loan guarantee from the United States Department of Energy.
MidAmerican Energy Holdings chairman and CEO Greg Abel said in prepared remarks that the utility is aggressively pursuing opportunities to expand its presence in renewable energy. The investment in Agua Cliente is “another important step toward that goal,” he added.
NRG CEO David Crane said partnering with MidAmerican, an industry leader, enhances the strength and credibility of “one of the world’s leading solar projects.”
Over a 25-year period, the plant’s output will offset electrical production that would create roughly 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the company said.
MidAmerican announced on Dec. 7 that it has purchased the 550-megawatt Topaz solar project, being built in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., from First Solar.
At the end of 2011, 28 percent of MidAmerican’s generation capacity will be from renewable and noncarbon sources.
NRG generates enough power to support over 20 million homes. Its utility subsidiaries, Reliant, Green Mountain Energy Co. and Energy Plus, serve more than 2 million customers.