Southern, Turner back for more PV

The joint venture of Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy continue to mop up utility-scale PV arrays across the southwest, announcing Friday that they have bought a 50MW(ac) plant in New Mexico from First Solar.

The Macho Springs project, which First Solar bought last year from developer Element Power, was recently completed, and has begun selling electricity to El Paso Electric via a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Macho Springs is the seventh utility-scale PV plant acquired since 2010, and the third from First Solar, by Southern Turner Renewable Energy LLC.

The JV combines Southern Power, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based electricity giant Southern Company, and Turner Renewable Energy, the private renewables business owned by US billionaire Ted Turner, an avowed environmentalist and among the largest private landowners in the US.

The JV owns nearly 300MW of PV capacity, including one-third of the total capacity on line in the state of New Mexico. In addition to being a repeat First Solar customer, Southern Turner Renewable Energy has also bought PV plants built by SunEdison.

Among the largest generators of coal-fired power in the US, Southern Company is also building the first new nuclear reactors in the US in 30 years, at its Plant Vogtle site in Georgia.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi it is investing billions into a plant that will demonstrate a new means of converting coal to gas, with the emitted CO2 to be used for enhanced oil recovery. Southern hopes the plan will prolong coal’s role in the US energy mix.

Yet the utility is also rapidly swelling its renewables portfolio.

Yesterday it was announced that Georgia Power, another Southern subsidiary, has received the regulatory go-ahead to buy 250MW of wind power from two Oklahoma projects owned by developer EDPR.