SAN DIEGO, Jan. 22, 2009 – Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, Boulder City Mayor Roger Tobler, Neal Schmale, president and chief operating officer of Sempra Energy, and other dignitaries were on hand today in southern Nevada to officially dedicate Sempra Energy’s new El Dorado Energy Solar facility, the largest thin-film solar power facility in North America.
The 10-megawatt (MW) project is located adjacent to the company’s existing 480 MW El Dorado Energy natural gas-fired power plant near Boulder City, Nev., about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas.
The El Dorado Energy Solar project is Sempra Energy’s first solar power-generation project and required just six months to build. Construction began in July 2008 and was completed in December 2008. It involved the installation of more than 167,000 solar modules on 80 acres of desert property designated as a renewable energy zone and leased from Boulder City.
The new project’s entire 10-MW output has been contracted under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric, the Northern California utility. The contract is subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission.
At peak production, El Dorado Energy Solar will generate enough electricity to power approximately 6,400 homes.
“Sempra Energy’s new solar project illustrates substantial foresight and the willingness to deploy an advanced photovoltaic technology on a scale attractive to utilities and other major power customers,” Gov. Gibbons said. “I look forward to seeing more projects like this in the Silver State.”
“Confronting climate change and the need for new, clean electric resources is one of the great challenges we face,” said Schmale. “We are excited about the potential of solar power and see this project as an important advance in solar power in North America.”
The new installation’s advanced thin-film semiconductor technology converts sunlight into electricity without air emissions or water use. These modules, manufactured by Arizona-based First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), can produce more electricity under real-world conditions than conventional solar modules with similar power ratings.
An additional 50-MW expansion phase of the project is under active consideration.
Unlike some solar power projects, El Dorado Energy’s solar power plant will not use water or other liquids in the power-generation process. This water conservation feature makes the project especially suitable to the arid U.S. Southwest. As with other solar projects, the new Sempra Generation facility will generate electricity during the day when customer demand peaks.
First Solar manufactured the solar modules, was the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project and is charged with monitoring and maintaining the plant.
Formed in 1999, First Solar is a worldwide industry leader in photovoltaic solar-module manufacturing and provides comprehensive PV solutions that significantly reduce solar electricity costs with 2007 revenues of more than $500 million.
Sempra Generation operates and maintains a fleet of power plants serving the U.S. market and is in the process of developing a solar and wind power projects in the Pacific Southwest. Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company with 2007 revenues of more than $11 billion. The Sempra Energy companies’ 13,500 employees serve more than 29 million consumers worldwide.
This press release contains statements that are not historical fact and constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When the company uses words like “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “estimates,” “may,” “would,” “should” or similar expressions, or when the company discusses its strategy or plans, the company is making forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Future results may differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon various assumptions involving judgments with respect to the future and other risks, including, among others: local, regional, national and international economic, competitive, political, legislative and regulatory conditions and developments; actions by the California Public Utilities Commission, the California State Legislature, the California Department of Water Resources, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other regulatory bodies in the United States and other countries; capital markets conditions, inflation rates, interest rates and exchange rates; energy and trading markets, including the timing and extent of changes in commodity prices; the availability of natural gas; weather conditions and conservation efforts; war and terrorist attacks; business, regulatory, environmental, and
legal decisions and requirements; the status of deregulation of retail natural gas and electricity delivery; the timing and success of business development efforts; the resolution of litigation; and other uncertainties, all of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond the control of the company. These risks and uncertainties are further discussed in the company’s reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that are available through the EDGAR system without charge at its Web site, www.sec.gov and on the company’s Web site, www.sempra.com.
Sempra Generation is not the same company as the utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) or Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), and is not regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission.