Xcel Energy, Minneapolis, and SunPower Corp., San Jose, Calif., a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, recently announced their plans to build a 17-megawatt AC photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Colorado's Alamosa County. When completed at the end of 2010, the power plant will be the second-largest high-efficiency solar PV power plant in North America. It's expected to create approximately 200 jobs during construction.

The plant will use SunPower Tracker systems, which generate up to 30 percent more energy per land area than conventional systems and reduce land-use requirements. SunPower Trackers tilt toward the sun as it moves across the sky, increasing energy capture and providing more power on hot summer days when utilities need it most. Xcel Energy is ranked as the fifth-largest utility provider of solar power in the nation. In Colorado, the company has acquired more than 25MW of on-site solar generation from homes and businesses participating in Xcel's Solar*Rewards rebate program. The company also is the nation's number one utility provider for wind power, and is working to meet various renewable energy standards in many of the eight states in which it serves.

By the end of 2010, the largest high-efficiency solar PV plant in North America will be the 25-megawatt (AC) Florida Power & Light (FPL) plant that SunPower is currently building and expects to complete by the end of this year; Alamosa will be the second-largest facility. The FPL plant is almost twice the size of North America's largest operating solar PV plant, the 12MW (AC)/14MW (DC) array at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada.

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