NRG Energy is continuing its expansion. The generation firm’s portfolio now includes nuclear and coal in addition to wind and solar and it is increasingly serving customers around the globe.
Last Friday, NRG announced two separate acquisitions that will both broaden its portfolio and add to its generating capacity: the company bought a 250 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR), from SunPower, and completed acquisition of Philadelphia-based Energy Plus Holdings, an electrical retail company that specializes in providing customers with green energy options for home and office power.
Located in San Luis Obispo Country, pictured above, the CVSR received a federal loan guarantee of up to $1.237 billion just before financial closing on Friday and is expected to be completed within two years and electricity will be sold to PG&E under a 25-year power purchase agreement. Construction began this month.
“Large-scale solar installations like California Valley Solar Ranch create hundreds of jobs during construction and–combined with distributed solar on rooftops–contribute enormously to the achievement of California’s ambitious renewable energy portfolio standard,” said President of NRG’s Solar and West Region, Tom Doyle, in a statement.
Grid Parity Approaches
When SunPower first announced plans to build the utility-scale solar plant three years ago, CVSR was unique in its size and the promise that it could provide “clean and green” electricity at a cost-competitive price. And as solar construction continues to increase, prices may are actually nearing grid parity in recent months.
“Solar PV power plants produce power at prices competitive with new natural gas peaking plants and will soon compete favorably with combined cycle gas plants as well,” said SunPower’s President of the utilities and power plants business group, Howard Wenger.
NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, already operates 2,000 MW of PV and solar thermal projects across the American southwest. NRG’s retail businesses, including Texas-based utilities Reliant Energy and Green Mountain Energy, sell electricity to nearly 1.9 million customers.
The acquisition of Energy Plus Holdings, which primarily serves the East Coast, including New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland as well as Illinois, will help NRG solidify its national name and reach a new customer base.
Though it also sells electricity from coal and nuclear, NRG CEO David Crane is vocally supportive of developing alternative renewables and is particularly supportive of the electric vehicle (EV) industry. Last year, NRG Energy launched eVgo, the first privately funded EV charging system, which Crane described as part of a process of accelerating a broader societal attitude shift towards energy use and sustainability.
“I’m not sure you could find anyone more bullish on the transformative nature of a product than I am on EVs,” Crane said recently at the GigaOm Cleantech Conference in San Fransisco. “If you let me warm up, I’ll get to the point where I say that EVs could create world peace.”
Photo Caption: Aerial view of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant which sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California on March 17, 2011.