Construction on 150-MW Copper Mountain Solar Energy begins this year

The California Public Utilities Commission today approved Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s 25-year contract to purchase 150 megawatts (MW) of renewable power from Sempra Generation’s Copper Mountain Solar 2 project in Boulder City, Nev.

With state regulatory approval of the contract secured, Sempra Generation announced that construction on the 1,100-acre solar plant will begin this year. The first 92 MW of solar panels at Copper Mountain Solar 2 are expected to be installed by year-end 2012, with the remaining 58 MW slated for completion by 2015. Under the terms of the contract, PG&E has the option to accelerate the commercial operation date of the second phase.

"Copper Mountain Solar 2 represents another big step forward for Sempra Generation as we continue growing our portfolio of contracted renewable energy assets throughout the U.S.," said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation. "There is a lot of excitement about starting construction on this major solar project, we and look forward to delivering another important source of clean energy to California consumers."

Copper Mountain Solar 2 will produce enough zero-emission electricity to power about 45,000 homes when fully developed.

"PG&E is working hard on behalf of our customers to meet California’s aggressive clean energy goals," said Fong Wan, senior vice president for procurement for PG&E. "Copper Mountain Solar 2 represents a significant step toward those goals. It increases our diverse renewable power portfolio, and will help us deliver more safe, reliable and affordable electricity to our customers throughout northern and central California."

First Solar will provide the ground mounted thin film panels and serve as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the solar project.

Sempra Generation, one of the largest solar developers in the U.S., operates 58 MW of utility-scale solar power in Boulder City and has an additional 150 MW under construction in Arizona. By early 2013, the company expects to have about 300 MW of solar generation in operation – an increase of more than five times the amount of solar capacity currently installed.

Sempra Generation operates and maintains natural gas-fueled power plants, and is a leading developer of solar and wind facilities that serve U.S. markets. In January 2012, Sempra Generation and Sempra Energy’s other U.S. operations outside of its two California utilities will be consolidated into a new business unit called Sempra U.S. Gas & Power.

Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services holding company with 2010 revenues of $9 billion. The Sempra Energy companies’ nearly 17,500 employees serve about 31 million consumers worldwide.