(USA) Tessera Solar, CPS Energy Sign 20-Year 27MW Solar Agreement

23 June 2009 by

Tessera Solar and CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipally owned energy company providing both natural gas and electricity, have signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) yesterday to develop a 27-megawatt solar project in West Texas using the SunCatcher™ power system manufactured by Tessera Solar’s sister company, Stirling Energy Systems.

The PPA with San Antonio’s CPS Energy is the first Texas project for Tessera Solar and will complement the company’s 1,500 MW of California projects in Imperial Valley and the Mojave Desert. With the signing of this PPA, CPS Energy is moving forward with its commitment announced in the summer of 2008 to pursue up to 100 MW of resource capacity from solar energy. This is part of CPS Energy’s ambitious overall goal to achieve renewable-energy capacity equal to 20 percent of customers’ peak electrical demand by 2020.

“We are extremely pleased to be working with CPS Energy on the Western Ranch Solar project,” said Tessera Solar North America CEO Bob Lukefahr. “CPS Energy is a company with a long history of leadership in renewable power, and this project is another example of its commitment to long-term sustainable energy. By choosing Tessera Solar and the SunCatcherTM power system, CPS Energy is able to provide San Antonio with low cost, high-efficiency solar power. And since the SunCatcherTM is designed and manufactured here in North America, CPS Energy is not only delivering low cost solar power, but it is also supporting manufacturing jobs here at home.”

“This marks our first purchase of solar-generated energy, and we look for it to be the start of a successful solar program for many years to come,” said CPS Energy CEO Milton B. Lee. “Solar will complement our diversified approach to producing electricity. We look forward to working with Tessera to help satisfy our customers’ electric needs in Greater San Antonio.”

The Western Ranch Solar project is expected to break ground in Summer 2010, assuming timely completion of regulatory approvals, with the first units expected to come online by the end of 2010. The 27 MW solar project, comprised of 1,080 SunCatcher™ dishes, will create 100 construction jobs and up to 20 permanent jobs. Furthermore, the investment in the project will create a significant property tax base to support schools, hospitals and other services in West Texas counties.

The SunCatcher™ system uses precision mirrors attached to a parabolic dish to concentrate the sun’s energy onto a high-efficiency Stirling Engine. Each dish can generate up to 25,000 watts of power and has been certified by Sandia National Laboratories as having the highest sun-to-grid energy conversion in the world. In addition to its efficiency and cost advantages, the SunCatcher™ uses less than 1% of the water required by competing solar thermal technologies. Western Ranch Solar is expected to be one of the first utility-scale solar projects built in Texas and can be expanded to as much as 130MW.

Yesterday’s announcement is also supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as San Antonio is one of only 25 cities in the nation to receive the Solar America City designation by the government agency. DOE provides financial and technical assistance to support the cities' innovative efforts to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies. San Antonio, under its Solar America City partnership, is working to remove barriers to widespread solar deployment in the city and help cost effectively meet its solar installation goals by focusing on large scale solar installations.