The project represents Tenaska’s expansion into solar power generation and is the first of what is expected to be a number of solar generating stations the company will develop in California and other states.
The 946-acre renewable energy project was developed in Imperial County by an affiliate, Tenaska Solar Ventures, LLC. A second project, Imperial Solar Energy Center West, is being developed nearby.
Nine banks provided debt financing. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. and Union Bank, N.A. (collectively, "MUFG") led the bank group, which includes BBVA Compass, DZ Bank, Helaba, Key Bank, Lloyds TSB Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Santander’s Sovereign Bank.
"We are proud to have teamed with an outstanding group of lenders whose professionalism and commitment to the deal were especially important in today’s challenging financing environment," said David Kirkwood, Tenaska vice president and treasurer. "This financing also recognizes Tenaska’s consistent approach to rational projects, underpinned by strong contracts and appropriately structured debt."
On-site construction of Imperial Solar Energy Center South began in December. About 130 megawatts of electricity has been sold to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) under a 25-year agreement, enough electricity to meet the needs of at least 44,000 California homes at peak demand.
First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) is the technology provider and the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project, using its advanced thin film photovoltaic modules.
"For 25 years, Tenaska has been a developer and operator of electric generating plants fueled by natural gas. We’re leveraging this experience to expand into solar generation, and we expect to play a significant role in the solar energy industry," said Tenaska Development President Dave Fiorelli.
Imperial Solar Energy Center South is expected to go into commercial operation in 2014, becoming one of the first solar projects to deliver power via the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line being constructed by SDG&E.
Tenaska is one of the largest independent power producers in the United States. Forbes magazine ranks Tenaska 25th among the largest privately-held U.S. companies, based on 2010 revenues. Tenaska has developed approximately 9,000 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity across the United States. Tenaska affiliates currently operate and manage eight power plants totaling more than 6,700 MW that it owns in partnership with other companies. Tenaska is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, with offices in Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Tenaska affiliates also market natural gas, electric power and biofuels, with Tenaska’s natural gas marketing affiliate rated as one of the top 10 natural gas marketers in North America. Tenaska affiliates are also involved in private equity investment and acquisition management, fuel supply, natural gas exploration, production and pipeline systems and electric transmission development.