First Solar announced today that the company has begun construction on Phase I of the Barilla Solar Project in Pecos County, Texas, west of Fort Stockton. The 22 megawatt (MW)AC project is expected to begin commercial operation in mid-2014.
First Solar will build, commission and operate the power plant, and offer the output to customers, including municipal utilities, electric cooperatives, and larger commercial and industrial users. The project, located in West Texas, will have access to one of the best solar resource areas in the state and can provide electricity to more heavily populated areas with greater peak energy demand.
"The Barilla Solar Project demonstrates First Solar's capability to rapidly develop, construct and commission a solar project offering clean, reliable energy at competitive rates to the market when and where it is required," said Tim Rebhorn, Senior Vice President of Business Development for First Solar. "The project will contribute to Texas' immediate energy needs and demonstrate how solar power can provide a generating resource that can be effectively integrated into the ERCOT grid and help meet Texas' energy demand, particularly during critical peak hours."
"First Solar is excited to help Texas meet its peak energy demand using clean, affordable solar power," said Brian Kunz, First Solar's Vice President of Project Development. "An additional benefit is that solar power plants require no water to generate electricity," said Kunz. "This is important in West Texas, where scarce water resources must be preserved."
"This is an important step forward in our efforts to establish West Texas as a center for renewable energy," said Pecos County Judge Joe Shuster. "We are not resting on our legacy of leadership in oil and gas. We welcome solar as the next new component in our portfolio of energy resources."
"Industry diversification is critical to this community's growth," said Doug May, Director of the Fort Stockton Economic Development Corporation. "We've got the power and transportation infrastructure in place. This opportunity to harvest the ample solar resources of the region will encourage and support further development."
Eventually, according to Rebhorn, First Solar would consider selling the Barilla Solar Project to a long-term owner.