Wells Fargo sees Bright Outlook
by San Francisco Business Times
Wells Fargo & Co. said Thursday it made its largest equity investment in solar energy, taking a stake in Nevada Solar One.
The facility, a 64-megawatt concentrated solar power plant in southeast Las Vegas, is a $266 million project developed by Acciona Energy. It is the largest solar energy facility built in 16 years.
Nevada Solar One's solar field covers 400 acres and features more than 182,000 parabolic trough-shaped mirror panels that track the sun throughout the day and concentrate solar radiation onto receiver tubes. This heats a special fluid in the receiver tubes to create steam that drives a conventional steam turbine generator to produce electricity.
The transaction is the nation's first leveraged lease structured financing for a concentrate solar radiation plant. Wells Fargo participated as one of three equity investors including an affiliate of Northern Trust and a unit of JP Morgan Chase, who underwrote the equity and led the equity investors. Debt participants include Banco Santander and BBVA of Spain, and CAIXA of Portugal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The solar plant is expected to help stabilize electricity costs for Nevadans, who have seen electricity prices rise more than 50 percent since 2000.
Nevada Solar One will provide power during peak periods, when electricity prices and demand are highest. The electricity generated will be purchased by Nevada Power Co. and Sierra Pacific Power Co. through long-term power purchase agreements at fixed electricity prices. Both utilities are owned by Sierra Pacific Resources of Reno, Nev.
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