NRG Energy picks up nine new solar projects, doubles portfolio

NRG Solar has purchased its way into the renewable energy business by buying nine new solar projects in the western U.S.

ArcLight Capital Partners announced on Monday that it would sell its solar portfolio to NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy.

The portfolio, named US Solar Ventures Holdings, was founded in 2008 and consists of nine projects that will eventually total roughly 450 megawatts of capacity.

The portfolio consists of projects with capacities ranging from 20 to 99 megawatts each.

All are utility-scale projects in California and Arizona that use parabolic trough and photovoltaic solar technology. The acquisition almost doubles NRG Solar's existing projects, totaling 1,150 MW.

None of them are online yet.

"The sale to NRG, an established leader in the independent power sector, will facilitate the commercial advancement of these projects," US Solar principal Bob Mooney said in a statement. "These projects will help meet the growing needs for solar power in the Western United States."

Quick facts about NRG's portfolio:

  • In Texas, it owns 13 projects with a total capacity of 11,340 megawatts.
  • In the northeastern U.S., it owns 17 projects with a total capacity of 7,130 megawatts.
  • In the South and Midwest, it owns six projects with a total capacity of 2,850 megawatts.
  • In the West, it owns six projects with a total capacity of 2,150 megawatts.

But most of those projects are for coal and natural gas.

Only two NRG projects are for wind power, one for nuclear and just one -- in Blythe, Calif., with a capacity of 21MW -- for solar, recently purchased from First Solar.

In that way, the purchase makes sense. NRG has effectively bought its way into the solar-power generation business, fueled by federal tax incentives for the industry.

NRG's official reasons:

  • The sites have "strong solar resources, potential for long-term power offtake agreements with load-serving entities and established, easily accessible connections to power grids."
  • NRG wants to expand its portfolio of "low and no carbon generation assets with diverse technologies including new nuclear generation, onshore and offshore wind, biomass projects and a commercial-scale carbon capture project for fossil-fueled generation."

"US Solar has developed a project pipeline that gives us strategic depth in promising solar markets in which there is a public policy commitment to use this zero-emission, domestic peak period energy source," NRG president and CEO David Crane said in a statement.

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