This news may signal the final chapter in a six month saga First Solar has been entwined in regarding the 550 MW solar farm. In June the Arizona-based photovoltaic (PV) solar developer was awarded $4.5 billion  in conditional loan guarantees from the Department of Energy  for three California solar projects. Of the three the Topaz Solar project received the largest portion just under $2 billion. One of the DOE conditions for the projects to receive the backing was to to break ground on construction by September 30 which First Solar failed  to do for the Topaz installation and lost the loan guarantee.
With loan guarantees and construction under way on the other two projects, the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch (230 MW) and the Desert Sunlight Project (550 MW), First Solar was able to sell both of them  in late September. At that time the company said that it was in advanced stage talks to finance or sell Topaz Solar. Now, two over two months later and with construction underway MidAmerican Energy has conditionally agreed to purchase the $2 billion project.
The Topaz Solar farm acquistion marks MidAmerican Energy Holdings entry into the solar industry. And what an entrance it is. When complete Topaz Solar, located San Luis Obispo County, California, is expected to be one of the largest PV installations in the world creating enough electricity to power 160,000 homes.
This may seem like a big plunge into what is becoming an increasing volatile solar market, especially considering the government will not be backing the enormous price tag. However, the Iowa-based energy services provider which is 88%-owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and controlled by Warren Buffett, is no stranger to renewable energy generation. With over 1,393 MW of wind generation in operation the company boasts "the No. 1 owner of wind-powered energy generation among U.S. rate-regulated utilities."
MidAmerican CEO Greg Abel comments on his company's latest acquisition seemed to be intended to quell any fears surrounding projects not backed by government support saying, "This project demonstrates that solar energy is a commercially viable technology without the support of governmental loan guarantees and reflects the type of solar and other renewable generation that MidAmerican will continue to seek to add to its unregulated portfolio."
First Solar, which will continue to construct the solar farm and will serve as the facility's operator once complete, expects bring the project online in 2015.
Image Credit: First Solar