Leading U.S. independent energy provider Tenaska closed $450 million in commercial financing today for Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, a 150-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar electric generating plant near El Centro, California.
The renewable energy project, when operating at peak times, will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 55,000 homes in the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) service territory.
Tenaska Imperial West will be the 17th power generation project Tenaska has developed, financed and constructed, and the company’s second utility-scale solar electric generating facility. The first, the 130-MW Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South, also near El Centro, began commercial operation Nov. 1, 2013.
In addition to Tenaska Imperial West and Tenaska Imperial South, the company has more than 250 MW of solar power in pre-financing development in Imperial County.
“The successful financing, and the fact that lenders were prepared to loan more money than was actually needed, demonstrate the strength of the project,” said Steve Johnson, Tenaska vice president of development. “We appreciate the work of SDG&E, state and local officials and the Imperial Valley community. Tenaska Imperial West is on schedule to begin construction later this year, thanks in part to their commitment to building the green energy economy in Southern California. We look forward to making the investment, jobs and tax revenue a reality as we break ground.”
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, BNP Paribas, Royal Bank of Canada, Santander Bank, Helaba and DZ Bank led the bank group. Riverside Risk Advisors assisted Tenaska in designing and executing its interest rate risk management program.
An affiliate of Tenaska is the majority owner of Tenaska Imperial West. An affiliate of Silver Ridge Power, LLC owns a minority interest in the project.
The construction of Tenaska Imperial South resulted in millions of dollars in Imperial County tax payments and supply and service contracts with local companies. Tenaska expects the same with Tenaska Imperial West. The construction timeline of Tenaska Imperial West will allow the project to achieve commercial operation in 2016, according to its contract requirements. Its power will be delivered to SDG&E via the company’s 500-kilovolt, 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line. SDG&E built the line to carry renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to San Diego.
First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) is the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for Tenaska Imperial West. The facility will use First Solar’s advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules with single-axis tracking to follow the sun for greater power generation. First Solar was the EPC contractor for Tenaska Imperial South and now operates the facility under a contract with Tenaska.
First Solar will hire the construction workers for Tenaska Imperial West, advertising in Imperial County. The project is expected to create up to 800 direct jobs at peak construction. Tenaska Imperial South created about 500 jobs at peak construction, 70 percent of which were filled by Imperial County residents. Tenaska and its EPC contractor again plan to work with Imperial County Workforce Development, Employment Development Department and other agencies in the region to coordinate local hiring efforts.
Tenaska, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is one of the leading independent power producers in the U.S., with regional offices in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Pittsburgh and Calgary and Vancouver, Canada. Forbes magazine consistently ranks Tenaska among the largest privately held U.S. companies. Tenaska and its affiliates have developed and constructed approximately 9,000 megawatts (MW) of natural gas-fueled and renewable power generation, and manage operations for approximately 11,000 MW of power generation consisting of 15 power plants. Tenaska formed CSOLAR IV West, LLC to build, own and operate the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West. Affiliates of Tenaska serve as the managing partner. Tenaska affiliates also market natural gas, electric power, biofuels and related commodities, and natural gas fuels, and provide energy risk management services. Tenaska is involved in asset acquisition, fuel supply, natural gas exploration, production and transportation systems, and electric transmission development