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April 20, 2014

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Sempra to expand solar power plant near Boulder City

Expansion would provide electricity to serve 30,000 homes

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Tiffany Brown

Solar future: Sempra Energy unveiled El Dorado Energy Solar plant near Boulder City on Jan. 22.

El Dorado Solar plant

Yvonne Szymczak, left, and Brok Armantrout look at more than 167,00 solar modules over 80 acres of land at El Dorado Valley at Sempra Energy's new El Dorado Energy Solar facility on Thursday. Launch slideshow »

A big expansion of a solar energy power plant near Boulder City was announced today.

Sempra Generation of San Diego, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, reported its intention to construct a 48-megawatt expansion of its existing 10-megawatt photovoltaic power plant near Boulder City. The expansion will produce enough energy to serve 30,000 homes.

The cost of the project, adjacent to Sempra's 480-megawatt El Dorado natural gas-fired power plant, wasn't disclosed. Sempra has said that installing the solar panels in the desert adjacent to the gas plant is efficient since the extra capacity is easily tied into the regional power grid.

The new combined 58-megawatt solar installation would become the largest operational photovoltaic solar-power facility in North America with nearly 1 million photovoltaic panels, Sempra said.

Construction is scheduled to begin after Sempra Generation contracts to sell the facility’s power output. The project could be operational by late 2010.

"We look forward to continuing our efforts to help western utilities meet their goals for renewable energy," Michael Allman, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation, said in a statement. "This would be our largest renewable energy project thus far and move us closer to our stated goal of becoming the first U.S. company to own 500 MW of solar power."

Unlike the nearby 64-megawatt Acciona Energy plant, Sempra Generation’s solar power plants do not use heated water or other liquids in the power-generation process.

Also today, First Solar Inc. of Tempe, Ariz., said it was selected to design and build the Boulder City solar plant addition for Sempra.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to expand this 10MW project to 58MW—more than five times its original size, advancing our mission of providing clean, affordable solar electricity," John Carrington, First Solar executive vice president of marketing and business development, said in a statement. "Sempra Generation’s decision to use First Solar in expanding the El Dorado solar plant demonstrates our ability to provide a cost-effective energy solution for utility scale projects."

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