Puerto Rico to get its first utility-scale PV plant at 24MW

MetLife will provide AES Ilumina with a loan to build a $97m, 24MW PV plant in Puerto Rico — the Caribbean island’s first utility-scale solar project.

AES Ilumina, a unit of AES Solar, itself a joint venture of AES Corporation and private-equity firm Riverstone Holdings, has won construction and term loans plus tax-equity non-recourse financing facilities from MetLife, the insurance and financial services group. The amount of the loan has not been disclosed.

The plant will be built in Guayama, with construction led by Global Energy Services of Philadelphia.

Ilumina will sell all the output to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority under a 20-year power-purchase agreement.

The plant is expected to begin production in mid-2012. AES Solar chief executive Robert Hemphill says Ilumina was “able to leverage AES’s existing presence in the market to expand into a renewable platform”.

“This power plant is also the first investment in our planned expansion into the US solar market,” he says — adding that the company also intends “to support further energy diversification on the island”.

Puerto Rico Industrial Development executive director José Pérez-Riera says: “The Ilumina project addresses our needs of diversifying energy sources, including renewable, clean and plentiful solar energy.

“It is key to ensuring our economic growth.”

Ilumina is the first company to be awarded economic incentives under new legislation covering renewable-energy generation.

AES Solar was formed to develop, own and operate utility-scale PV installations around the world. It has 191MW in operation or under construction in the US, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Bulgaria and India, plus development activity in other countries.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Puerto Ricans are US citizens, but while Congress makes laws for Puerto Rico, islanders cannot vote in US presidential elections.

Christiana Sciaudone, Rio de Janeiro

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