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OCI secures 400MW solar energy agreement in Texas

A landmark deal signed municipal utility CPS Energy and OCI Solar Power will result in the construction of 400MW of solar energy, bring several manufacturing facilities that produce solar panel components, and create 805 jobs in San Antonio.

CPS Energy President and CEO Doyle Beneby inked the manufacturing-to-generation contract with Tony Dorazio, president of OCI Solar Power last week, making the 25-year power purchase and economic development agreement official.

The 400-MW San Antonio project is the largest in the nation among municipal utilities, and will catapult Texas into the top five U.S. solar producing states, according to the CPS Energy. It will bring the Greater San Antonio area around $1bn in construction investment in addition to an annual economic boost of $700mn, the firm says.

Providing enough electricity for nearly 70,000 local households (about 10 percent of San Antonio's customers) the final deal also will deliver an estimated $100 million high-tech US manufacturing operation in south San Antonio. In addition, 800-plus professional and technical jobs with an annual payroll of nearly $40 million will be created, with 75% of those jobs being in the renewable energy sector.

"Leveraging our buying power to secure competitive generation resources makes good business sense for several reasons,” said Beneby. “With 400 megawatts of solar, we attain zero-emissions energy to help hedge against environmental regulations; provide much needed generation during peak demand; and obtain affordable renewables while enhancing job opportunities for our customers and economic development for the entire region."

For OCI Solar Power (which is part of the South Korea’s OCI Company), the deal is its first venture in Texas. "We are thrilled to call San Antonio our home," said Dorazio. "We are proud to deliver clean, renewable energy to CPS Energy customers, and around mid-2013, we are committed to bringing the first 50 megawatts of solar power online in the CPS Energy service area."

OCI Solar Power created a consortium of partners to deliver 400 MW of solar to CPS Energy throughout the 25-year life of the agreement. According to the contract, members of the OCI Solar Power consortium will build facilities in San Antonio to produce components for solar power generation such as modules, trackers and inverters used to supply the North American market.

The anchor manufacturer in the consortium is Nexolon America LLC, a subsidiary of Nexolon, an established global leader in manufacturing components used in solar panels. Nexolon America LLC played a pivotal role in making the deal a success through its commitment to investing $100 million in building a high-tech 200MW capacity manufacturing facility and locating its North American headquarters in San Antonio, in total creating over 400 jobs. The company will serve both the North and South American solar market from its San Antonio-headquartered facility.

"Nexolon is looking forward to becoming a leader in solar power manufacturing in the U.S. and we're excited that our expansion into North America is taking place in one of the most historic cities in America. We expect to contribute greatly to San Antonio's New Energy Economy," said Nexolon Board Chair and Chief Strategy Officer Woo-Jeong Lee. 

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity