Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) announced the commercial operation of the 50-megawatt Hooper solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Colorado's San Luis Valley. Xcel Energy is purchasing the power generated by the plant at cost-competitive rates under a power purchase agreement with SunPower. The utility estimates that the plant is generating enough electricity to serve the needs of approximately 13,500 average Colorado homes.
SunPower designed and constructed the plant, and is now operating and maintaining it onsite, and monitoring power production from the company's remote operations control center in Austin, Tex. More than 150 jobs were created at the project site during peak construction.
At the 320-acre site, SunPower installed a SunPower® Oasis® Power Plant system. Oasis is a fully integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use. The technology includes SunPower's proprietary robotic solar panel cleaning capability that uses 75 percent less water than traditional cleaning methods and can help improve system performance by up to 15 percent.
SunPower constructed two other solar power plants in the San Luis Valley that are also generating power for Xcel Energy's Colorado customers. The 19-megawatt Greater Sandhill plant has been operating since 2010, and the 30-megawatt San Luis Valley Solar Ranch began delivering energy in 2011.
The capacity of power plants in this release is described in approximate megawatts on an alternating current (ac) basis.