NRG Solar to buy First Solar's 290-megawatt plant

Arizona solar farm known as Agua Caliente changes hands yet again, along with its power purchase agreement with PG&E.

It seems the Agua Caliente solar project in Arizona is changing hands once again.

NRG Energy announced today its subsidiary NRG Solar plans to acquire Agua Caliente, a 290-megawatt solar farm from First Solar, as long as an application for a federal loan guarantee gets granted.

"Closing of the acquisition is contingent on receiving the federal loan guarantee," NRG said in a statement. The purchase price was not disclosed.

First Solar itself had acquired the Agua Caliente solar project from NextLight Renewable Power for $285 million in April.

NRG Solar says it has plans to invest a combined total of $800 million in the project from its own funds, outside investors, and the federal loan guarantee between deal completion and 2014.

At the time of the First Solar/NextLight deal it was clear that First Solar's deal was as much about the power purchase agreements it stood to gain, as it was about the actual projects. NextLight at the time had an agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric for over 520 megawatts that First Solar inherited through the deal.

NRG Solar will now gain a 25-year power purchase agreement with PG&E with respect to the 290-megawatt Agua Caliente project.

The solar farm as planned will be located on 2,400 acres of farmland spread across Yuma County, Ariz. When complete it's expected to generate enough electricity to power 225,000 homes, according to NRG Solar.

NRG Energy and First Solar have made deals before. In November 2009, NRG Solar purchased a 21-megawatt solar plant in Blythe, Calif. , from First Solar that came with a 20-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison.

NRG Energy has been doing a lot of acquiring over the last two years, and Agua Caliente joins a list of high-profile projects that NRG has announced in recent months.

In November, NRG Solar announced a deal to purchase the California Valley Solar Ranch , a 250-megawatt solar project from SunPower, for $450 million. The plant also came with a PG&E power purchase agreement, and is estimated to provide enough electricity to power 50,000 homes. In October, NRG Solar announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding to partner with BrightSource Energy to build a 392-megawatt solar thermal project. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which NRG Solar plans to invest $300 million in, is expected to be the largest commercial solar thermal plant in the U.S.

Earlier this year NRG Energy, through its eVgo Network (pronounced ee-vee-go), also partnered with Walgreens to implement over 100 commercial electric-vehicle charging stations in Texas.

Correction, 9:32 a.m. PT December 16: The nature of the Blythe, Calif., sale was mistakenly transposed. In November 2009, NRG Energy purchased the 21-megawatt solar plant from First Solar.

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In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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