First Solar has not one but two solar deals to announce today. The company announced the bigger one this morning: building two power plants totaling 550 megawatts in order to sell the electricity to Southern California Edison.
This afternoon, First Solar said it also has a deal in place with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The solar company said it would engineer and build a 55-megawatt solar farm in Niland, which is in Imperial County.
Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar isn't disclosing a whole lot of details about the project, including whether the LADWP would own and operate the power plant. UPDATE: The city has signed a power purchase agreement with First Solar, according to Mark Bachman, an equity analyst at Pacific Crest. First Solar, as usual, is likely to sell the power plant to investors before project completion. But the city has an option to buy the power plant after it's put in service for seven years.
If the LADWP doesn't want to own the power plant, then it would sign a long-term contract to buy electricity. First Solar could then sell the power plant to investors.
The company won't be divulging more information until the deal is finalized by the Los Angeles City Council in coming weeks, said Alan Bernheimer, a spokesman for First Solar.
Aside from getting approval from Los Angeles City Council and the mayor, First Solar also would need building permits from Imperial County.
The company plans to start constructing the 55-megawatt project next year and complete it in 2011.
First Solar makes solar panels and recently jumped into the power plant construction business to popularize its panels in North America. Its largest market remains in Europe, where it typically doesn't get involved in the engineering and construction of solar power plants.