NRG Energy Inc. and SunPower Corp. have completed the final phase of the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) photovoltaic generating facility in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., bringing the total electric generating capacity of the plant up to 250 MW. CVSR will sell its electricity to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under two long-term power purchase agreements.
NRG acquired CVSR from SunPower in 2011, and the project is jointly owned with NRG Yield, which holds 48.95%. NRG's remaining ownership of CVSR is one subject to a right of first offer agreement between NRG and NRG Yield. CVSR received a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office.Â
SunPower designed and provided engineering, procurement and construction services for the project, working with Bechtel. Construction began in September 2011. In October 2012, the first 22 MW began delivering power to PG&E's transmission lines. NRG and SunPower will jointly operate and maintain CVSR for two years, after which NRG will assume sole responsibility for operating the site.
‘CVSR is now delivering 250 MW of cost-competitive solar power in San Luis Obispo County, thanks to the combined efforts of NRG Solar and SunPower, PG&E, San Luis Obispo County officials and community members, our subcontractors and vendors, and the hard-working women and men who engineered and constructed this remarkable project,’ says Howard Wenger, SunPower president for regions.
The project's design and construction approach minimized impacts to the 4,700-acre CVSR site. NRG Solar says solar arrays cover only 30% of the total site, minimizing grading and water usage. The CVRS project had been dogged by lawsuits by environmentalists, and site impact mitigation and conservation considerations were instrumental in enabling the project to proceed.
‘In addition to its nine solar photovoltaic arrays, CVSR includes a water recycling plant that minimizes annual water use and a plan for protecting and conserving more than 12,000 acres of land in and around the facility,’ says Randy Hickok, senior vice president of NRG Solar.