NextEra gets 750MW McCoy OK

NextEra Energy Holdings has received local sign-off for its McCoy PV mega-array by officials in Riverside County, California, paving the way for the first 250MW phase to be completed by late 2016.

Full approval – expected last month – was delayed due to lingering concerns over the project’s potential environmental impact.

But yesterday the project was given the thumbs up by Riverside County supervisors, with an emphasis on the scope for job creation during the build-out.

The US Bureau of Land Management, which owns the majority of the land upon which McCoy will be built, approved the project last spring.

Last October NextEra handed the module-supply and EPC contract for McCoy to First Solar, which is also building NextEra’s 550MW Desert Sunlight array located nearby.

Initial site works, including road-building and the installation of tortoise fences, will kick off in the next few months at McCoy. First power generation is expected next year, with full commissioning in 2016.

The project is approved for up to 750MW, although at present NextEra only has a PPA for the first 250MW with Southern California Edison.

Florida-based NextEra Energy Holdings, already the largest generator of wind power in the US, is due for a surge in its solar portfolio over the next few years.

At present solar accounts for just 3% of the company’s installed capacity – compared to 56% for wind.

But NextEra will wrap up construction this year at Desert Sunlight and its 250MW Genesis concentrating solar power (CSP) plant , which is also in Riverside County.

All told, NextEra anticipates bringing 800MW of solar capacity on line between 2014-2016.