SunPower Adds 40-Megawatt Capacity to California Valley Solar Ranch

SunPower Corp., one of the nation’s largest solar panel manufacturers, will open a facility in Milpitas this year, adding 100 jobs to a part of the Bay Area still reeling from the closure of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ:SPWRA) (NASDAQ:SPWRB) today announced it has executed an agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) that completes contractual arrangements for the development of a 250-megawatt (AC) solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.

The agreement adds 40 megawatts (MW) of capacity to SunPower’s existing contract for 210 MW, which was executed in August 2008. When complete, the 250-MW California Valley Solar Ranch is expected to be one of the largest photovoltaic solar power plants in the world.

The California Valley Solar Ranch agreement was designed to accommodate the additional 40-MW capacity, eliminating the need for any amendments to SunPower’s county permit application. The solar plant will be completed in phases, with the first phase planned to begin operation in 2011.

"We are thrilled to continue to advance one of the first central station solar power plants in the world with PG&E and in coordination with San Luis Obispo County," said Howard Wenger, president of SunPower’s utilities and power plants business group. "The California Valley Solar Ranch will generate pollution-free solar power that is competitive with new, conventional peak power. Our incremental 40-MW agreement with PG&E provides more visibility into our power plant pipeline in 2011 and beyond."

Responding to feedback from the local community, SunPower revised several aspects of its original power plant design to minimize environmental impacts and enhance the system’s visual profile. SunPower has also been working with the community to reduce the amount of traffic in the area during construction and to protect local wildlife habitat and migration patterns.

SunPower has more than 550 MW of large solar power systems installed or under contract globally around the world. In the U.S., the company recently completed 35 MW for Florida Power & Light, with 25 MW at the nation’s largest operating solar PV plant at DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center and a 10 MW installation at the Kennedy Space Center, both located in Florida. SunPower also installed the largest urban solar power plant, an 8-MW power plant for Exelon in Chicago, and recently announced the financing of a 19-MW power plant for Xcel Energy in Colorado.

Construction of the California Valley Solar Ranch is contingent on a number of factors, including the receipt of all applicable permits, completion of transmission upgrades and financing.