Xcel orders 50MW SunPower plant

Xcel Energy has returned to SunPower for another utility-scale PV array in Colorado, ordering up a 50MW(ac) plant for its Public Service Company of Colorado subsidiary.

Minnesota-based Xcel signed a power-purchase agreement for the plant, meaning it will for now be owned by SunPower, with third-party investors likely to be brought on.

SunPower will build the project using its modular Oasis Power Plant system, with construction to kick off next year and finish by the end of 2016.

It is the third plant SunPower will build in Colorado’s southern San Luis Valley to generate power for Xcel, following the 19MW Greater Sandhill (now owned by MetLife and John Hancock Financial Services) and 30MW San Luis Valley Solar Ranch (owned by Iberdrola Renewables).

Acting through its four primary subsidiaries, Xcel is among the largest buyers of renewable electricity int the US, mostly coming from wind. But the utility is also adding solar to its mix.

“We are adding large-scale solar that competes with and surpasses other forms of generation alternatives, in terms of price, over the life of the projects,” says David Eves, chief executive of Public Service Company of Colorado.

Earlier this year Minnesota’s regular ruled that a 100MW PV scheme backed by the developer Geronimo Energy was the most cost-competitive option for Xcel in the state, with construction at the $250m Aurora scheme to kick off next year.