First Wind wins PPAs for 340 MW-AC of solar PV projects in Utah under PURPA

Landscape in southwestern Utah
The four PV projects will be located in two counties in southwestern Utah.

First Wind (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.) has finalized power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 320 MW-AC of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in the U.S. state of Utah with utility Rocky Mountain Power (Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.).

The four PPAs cover the Four Brothers PV projects in Beaver and Iron Counties, Utah, which will be the largest in the state when complete. The PPAs were awarded under a law requiring that utilities purchase electricity from renewable energy projects if it is below their “avoided cost”.

First Wind plans to begin construction on the projects in 2015, with completion targeted for 2016. These PPA follow on PPAs for First Wind's Seven Sisters projects, which total 20 MW-AC.

“It is with great excitement that we announce this second set of major agreements for cost-competitive and locally produced solar energy in Utah,” said First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor.

“These additional long-term contracts with Rocky Mountain Power will enable us to move forward quickly with what will be the largest solar development in Utah, and our largest solar project to date.”

PPAs signed under PURPA authority

First Wind has been awarded PPAs under the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURPA), which was passed in 1978. The law mandates the purchase of electricity from renewable energy and cogeneration if this cost is less than a utility's internal cost of generation.

Due to a low calculation of “avoided cost”, PURPA has not been terribly useful to PV producers, given that electricity from PV has traditionally been much more expensive than natural gas, coal and hydroelectricity.

This may be changing, as the cost of electricity from PV continues to fall, and several utility-scale PV plants have recently won contracts under PURPA.

In addition to the Four Brothers and Seven Sisters projects, First Wind is building a 306 MW wind project in Utah.



2014-06-17 | Courtesy: First Wind | © Heindl Server GmbH

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