Sempra PV plant wins prestigious award

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Largest U.S. photovoltaic farm wins Solar Project of the Year AwardSempra Generation’s 48-megawatt (MW) Copper Mountain Solar project was selected from more than 500 applicants as the Solar Project of the Year for the Excellence in Renewable Energy Awards.

It’s also currently the largest U.S. photovoltaic farm, and it was completed in less than a year.

While most companies submitted their projects for consideration, Sempra didn’t, said spokesperson Scott Crider.

“We’re really excited to win the award considering the amount of innovative projects completed this year,” said Crider. “It’s a great honor to come out as project of the year.”

With the Copper Mountain project, Sempra and project builder First Solar completed the plant ahead of schedule and on-budget.

“We’ve proven we can get steel in the ground and build on time and on budget as promised,” Crider said.

The company will now apply its business approach to the first 150-MW phase of the 700-MW Mesquite Solar plant, a project under a power-purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric.

According to Crider, Sempra won’t go forward with a project until all the ducks are in a row.

“Our philosophy is, we don’t start construction until we have a power-purchase agreement in place. We won’t start Mesquite until a PPA is in place. That’s certainly the approach we took with Copper Mountain as well,” Crider said.

Sempra also has made investments in land ideal for project development.

“One the advantages we have is that we have very large land positions in strategic locations. We have 4,000 acres in Mesquite with high solar insolation [a measure of solar radiation] and immediately next to high power lines that provide power throughout the west,” Crider said.

The approach is making Sempra a leader in clean energy projects. To develop more renewable energy projects, the company recently freed up $179 million by selling its interest in the Elk Hills Power natural-gas fired power plant to partner Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Inc. (NYSE: OXY).

“Right now, we still own some gas, 2,350 MW of gas. But we’re focused on wind and photovoltaics, especially in California,” Crider said. “There’s strong demand for high quality wind and solar there.”

The company was just one of the companies that won an Excellence in Renewable Energy Award in the second annual awards ceremony held at the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo in Tampa, Fla., this week.

Other companies won awards for other forms of generation, like the 12.5-MW Greensburg Wind Farm developed by NativeEnergy and John Deere.

SolarCity took home an excellence in Innovation award for its affordable financing options, and SunRun founders Lynn Jurich and Edward Fenster took home an excellence in Leadership award.

Image courtesy of Sempra Generation.