The maker of low-cost thin-film solar projects and the only pure-play alternative energy company in the S&P 500, First Solar has said it costs about 90 cents per watt to manufacture its photovoltaic modules.
That equates to a roughly $495 million price tag to build the solar panels for this particular project, not including material and labor for installation to hook it up to the grid. First Solar spokesman Alan Bernheimer declined to comment on the potential cost of the project.
The new First Solar project for Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International, ranks as one of the largest power plant scale projects for Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar.
The deal comes a day after two German firms teamed up to build a separate thermal solar plant for Southern California Edison.
First Solar will engineer, procure and construct the two solar facilities: a 250 megawatt Desert Sunlight project near Desert Center, Calif., and the 300 megawatt Stateline project in northeastern San Bernardino County.
Pending network upgrades and receipt of applicable governmental permits, construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 for Desert Sunlight and 2013 for Stateline. Several hundred construction jobs are expected to be created at each site.
When completed, the solar projects will produce 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy per year, enough to provide power for about 170,000 homes.
California utilities are currently working toward meeting the state goal of delivering 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010, with legislation under study to increase the goal to 33% by 2020.
The First Solar move comes in the wake of California's 2007 Go Solar campaign, a 10-year, $3 billion effort cited in a recent study by the Solar Energy Industry Association.
The California Public Utilities Commission is running a rebate and performance incentive program for customers serviced by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, or San Diego Gas & Electric. More than 125 megawatts of photo voltaic cells were installed in 2008 through this program.
In addition, the Obama administration last week rolled out a fresh $2.3 billion tax credit program for manufacturers of renewable energy equipment.