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FPL JOINTLY BUYS
5 SOLAR POWER ASSETS
IN CALIFORNIA

FPL Group Inc. Tuesday said it has bought a large minority stake in five solar power assets in California, cementing its position as the biggest US generator of solar and wind power.

FPL Energy, a unit of the FPL Group, said it bought five 30-megawatt solar energy generating systems (SEGS) in California's Mojave Desert with private equity fund Carlyle/Riverstone. It did not disclose financial details.

The SEGS were purchased from a diverse group of limited partners, a company spokesman said.

Juno Beach, Florida-based FPL Energy will operate the plants and own a 45 percent stake. Carlyle/Riverstone will own 49 percent, with the rest held by a group of limited partners.

The projects have long-term contracts to sell all of their power to utility Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International .

The SEGS, which were developed in the mid-1980s, mainly produce electricity during periods of high demand such as hot summer afternoons when there is heavy use of air-conditioning systems in California.

Rows of troughs, which track the sun using sensors and microprocessors, focus sunlight onto specially coated steel pipes that house vacuum insulated glass tubes containing oil. The oil is heated to 735 degrees Fahrenheit and used to generate superheated steam, which drives a turbine.

FPL Energy President Jim Robo said the transaction makes the company the largest generator of solar power in the United States, with 310 megawatts in operation, as well as the nation's largest wind generator, with more than 2,750 megawatts.

Private equity firms Riverstone Holdings LLC and the Carlyle Group are the general partners of the $1.1 billion Carlyle/Riverstone Global Energy and Power Fund II, which invests in the energy and power industry.

Written by: Planet Ark


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