NRG Energy Inc. and First Solar Inc. recently announced a deal where First Solar will provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for NRG's 66MW Alpine solar project in Lancaster, Calif. First Solar will also provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services. Electricity from the Alpine project will be sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., helping California meet its ambitious renewable energy goals. Construction is expected to start before the end of 2011 and be completed in Q3 2012, creating an estimated 250 jobs over the course of construction. The project will use First Solar's thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules. The electricity generated by Alpine is enough to serve a yearly average of nearly 25,000 homes, and more than double that number at maximum capacity during peak hours of the day. The project is expected to offset approximately 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases over 20 years, the equivalent of taking over 15,000 cars off the road annually.

“Less than two years ago, NRG and First Solar began our productive collaboration for our first solar plant at Blythe, which at 21MW was the largest solar plant in California at the time,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG's Solar and West Region. “Alpine is three times that size, so we've really come a long way together in a short amount of time.”

“First Solar is excited to be working again with NRG,” added Jim Lamon, First Solar senior V.P. for EPC and O&M. “Our experience developing and building out our 2.7 gigawatt North American pipeline of utility-scale PV projects enables us to get our customers' projects rapidly completed and connected to the grid.”

Need more green news? Check out G-Biz, a free e-mail newsletter published twice-a-month by the editors of Electrical Wholesaling and Electrical Construction and Maintenance magazine. You can subscribe by visiting www.ewweb.com and clicking on the “G-Biz” link in the left column.