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Southern Power buys controlling stake in North Star Solar Facility

Staff writer |
Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power has surpassed 1,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy development with the acquisition of a controlling interest in the 60-MW North Star Solar Facility in California from First Solar.

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The remaining interest in the project will be owned by an affiliate of First Solar.

First Solar will build, operate and maintain the North Star Solar Facility.
"Southern Power has acquired more than 1,000 MW of renewables while staying true to its conservative business model, making smart investments to help serve customers' energy needs now and in the future," said Southern Company chairman, president and CEO Thomas A. Fanning.

First Solar will build, operate and maintain the North Star Solar Facility. Construction began in July 2014, and the plant is expected to enter commercial operation this June. The facility is expected to be capable of generating enough electricity to help meet the energy needs of more than 21,000 average homes.

"Southern Power's choice of this project as the latest addition to their renewables portfolio demonstrates the value of utility-scale solar to major independent power companies," said First Solar's vice president of project development for the Western United States Brian Kunz.

Southern Power's fifth solar acquisition in California, the North Star Solar Facility will be located on 626 acres inFresno County and is expected to consist of approximately 750,000 of First Solar's thin-film photovoltaic solar modules mounted on single-axis tracking tables. This is the first facility in Fresno County for Southern Power and First Solar.

Southern Power's renewable energy portfolio of more than 1,000 MW of generating capacity ownership – either already in operation or under development – was assembled through the strategic development of 15 solar, wind and biomass projects across the United States, including five California solar projects. The Southern Company system has added or announced more than 3,100 MW of renewable projects since January 2012.

The electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the facility will be sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). Headquartered in San Francisco, PG&E provides energy to approximately 16 million people in Northern and Central California.

The North Star Solar Facility fits Southern Power's business strategy of growing its wholesale business through the acquisition and construction of generating assets substantially covered by long-term contracts.

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