Xcel Energy and Sunpower plan 17 MW solar PV plant

Xcel Energy and SunPower Corp., a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, are to build a 17 megawatt AC photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Colorado's Alamosa County.

When completed at the end of 2010, the power plant will reportedly be the second-largest high-efficiency solar PV power plant in North America. It is expected to create approximately 200 jobs during construction.

"We believe that solar power generation will play an increasingly vital role in our efforts to meet the wishes of our Colorado customers for more renewable, clean energy sources," saysTim Taylor, president and CEO for Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. "SunPower's experienced approach to solar power plant design and construction will allow us to quickly complete this important project."

According to a joint statement, the plant will use SunPower Tracker systems, which can generate up to 30% more energy per land area than conventional systems and reduce land-use requirements. SunPower Trackers tilt toward the sun as it moves across the sky, increasing energy capture and providing more power on hot summer days when utilities need it most.

"Today, high-efficiency solar PV technology is competitively-priced for power plant applications. It's fast to install, and reliably delivers clean power, particularly during peak demand hours," saysSunPower CEO Tom Werner. "We congratulate Xcel Energy for providing leadership in the promotion of solar power development, and for demonstrating how renewable technologies are part of the solution to ensure the health of our economy and our environment."

Xcel Energy is ranked as the fifth-largest utility provider of solar power in the nation. In Colorado, the company has acquired more than 25 MW of on-site solar generation from homes and businesses participating in Xcel's Solar*Rewards rebate programme. In addition, the company buys power from an 8.2-MW solar farm adjacent to where the new facility will be built. The company also is the USA's number one utility provider for wind power, and is working to meet various renewable energy standards in many of the 8 states in which it serves.

By the end of 2010, the largest high-efficiency solar PV plant in North America will be the 25 MW (AC) Florida Power & Light (FPL) plant that SunPower is currently building and expects to complete by the end of this year; Alamosa will be the second-largest facility. The FPL plant is almost twice the size of North America's largest operating solar PV plant, the 12 MW (AC) (14 MW(DC)) array at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, also built by SunPower. SunPower has a contract to build a 210 MW (AC) (250 MW (DC)) solar power plant for Pacific Gas & Electric Company in California, which is expected to be complete in 2012.

Construction of the new Alamosa project is contingent on factors including approval by the Colorado Public Utility Commission and project financing.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity