First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) has sold a collection of solar power projects in Ontario, Canada, totaling 50 megawatts (MW) AC to an investment partnership led by GE Energy Financial Services (NYSE: GE). Terms were not disclosed.
It is the first project transaction between First Solar and GE since their solar technology and commercial partnership was announced Aug. 6.
The ABW Partnership, originally announced in 2011, consists of majority owner GE Energy Financial Services and Alterra Power Corp. (TSX: AXY), which made an equity contribution and will serve as the projects’ managing partner. The ABW Partnership raised debt for the acquisition, with The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company serving as agent and lead arranger. The debt syndicate consists of The Great-West Life Assurance Company, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
First Solar has completed construction of the power plants – Amherstburg (10MWAC), Belmont (20MWAC) and Walpole (20MWAC) – and has commissioned and energized them so they are providing power to the grid. First Solar will provide operations and maintenance services under long-term contracts. Output of the power plants will be sold to Ontario Power Authority under its Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP), with 20-year power purchase agreements.
“First Solar is proud to contribute to Ontario’s renewable energy objectives,” said Tim Rebhorn, First Solar’s Senior Vice President of Business Development – Americas. “In addition to providing clean electricity, the projects have provided meaningful employment and local economic benefits, as well as contribute to the safe and efficient operation of the local utility system.”
For its part, GE Energy Financial Services said the Ontario projects contribute to its cumulative one-gigawatt, $1.5-billion solar investment portfolio, comprising 50 installations, including several with First Solar in North America and Australia.
“Our Ontario investments deepen our longstanding relationship with First Solar and illustrate our interest in acquiring solar power projects at various stages of development and construction,” said Mark Tonner, managing director and Canada business leader at GE Energy Financial Services. “Through a variety of equity and lease arrangements, we help developers monetize their own investments.”
Combined, the Ontario facilities are expected to produce enough clean, sustainable electricity to power approximately 6,300 local homes and avoid 14,600 tons of carbon dioxide a year – the equivalent of taking 3,700 cars off the road.
Earlier this month, First Solar and GE announced that First Solar had acquired GE’s solar technology intellectual property and that the two companies had entered into a collaborative commercial partnership.