First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) is on a tear when it comes to building some of the biggest utility-scale solar plants in the US.
The latest plant it’s been selected to build is the 250 megawatt (MW) McCoy Solar Energy Project in Riverside County, California.
NextEra Energy Resources owns the plant, which will be built on 2,300 acres of mostly public land. First Solar gets to use its thin-film solar PV panels, giving it income from the panels and project construction.
Construction on McCoy starts late next year. It will create about 400 jobs before coming online two years later.
McCoy is near a much bigger plant, the 550 MW Desert Sunlight Solar Farm. First Solar is building it after selling the project to NextEra, GE Energy Financial Services and Sumitomo Corporation of America.
Because of the many solar plants First Solar builds, it is the second largest contractor in the global power sector, according to Engineering News-Review.
Earlier this year, Department of Interior approved McCoy, which eventually could grow to 750 MW on 4400 acres- the largest in the US by far – supplying 225,000 homes. It’s located in Riverside East Solar Energy Zone, an area established through the Western Solar Energy Plan as most suitable for solar development.
At the time, Interior also approved two other big plants as part of President Obama’s "fast-track" list. The seven wind and solar projects include the largest wind farm in the US at 3 gigawatts and add up to nearly 5 GW of energy, enough to power about 1.5 million homes.
Because of all these big projects, solar energy prices are down by more than two-thirds over the past five years in the western US, according to a report from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.