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Xcel Energy and SunPower Corp. today announced the completion and commissioning of a 19-megawatt photovoltaic solar power plant in Colorado's Alamosa County. The Greater Sandhill solar power plant began generating power on December 22, 2010 and is currently the largest operating PV solar power plant in Colorado.
Greater Sandhill is generating enough power to serve the annual electricity needs of nearly 5,000 homes. Greater Sandhill was constructed in nine months, creating more than 100 jobs during construction.
"Xcel Energy is pleased to provide solar energy from Greater Sandhill to our customers and eagerly anticipates adding more solar power in the San Luis Valley in the near future. This shows Xcel Energy's commitment to working in the Valley to bring clean renewable energy to Xcel Energy customers throughout the state," said Tom Imbler, vice president, commercial operations for Xcel Energy. "Our partnership with SunPower is vital in reaching our renewable energy goals at a reasonable cost to our customers."
The plant uses SunPower¨ Tracker systems, which generate up to 25 percent more energy than conventional systems while reducing 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.
"SunPower's high-efficiency solar PV technology is competitively-priced for power plant applications, fast to install, and reliably delivers clean power, particularly during peak demand hours," said Howard Wenger, president of SunPower's utility and power plants business group. "We congratulate Xcel Energy for providing leadership in the promotion of large scale solar power development, and for demonstrating how renewable technologies are part of the solution to ensure the health of our economy and our environment."
MetLife and John Hancock Financial Services financed the third-party ownership of the plant.
SunPower is also constructing a 30-megawatt photovoltaic solar power plant, the San Luis Valley Solar Ranch, on 216 acres of private, former agricultural land in Alamosa County. Expected to be fully operational by the end of 2011, construction began at the end of 2010 and is creating approximately 100 jobs.
Iberdrola Renewables developed, owns and will operate the San Luis Valley Solar Ranch, and contracted with SunPower to provide the technology and construct the project. The company will sell the electricity under a long term contract to Xcel Energy, for distribution on the region's utility grid. In addition to employment opportunities, the project will provide revenue for schools, health, fire, and other critical services in Alamosa County.
Read Large-Scale Solar Power Systems: Construction and Economics from Amazon.