Enbridge, the increasingly embattled Canadian energy company, has purchased First Solar's 50-megawatt Silver State North photovoltaic project in Nevada.
Terms of the transaction were not released. However, First Solar will provide operations and maintenance services to Enbridge under a long-term contract; meanwhile NV Energy will purchase the solar energy through a 25-year power purchase agreement. Silver State North is expected to begin commercial operations in May 2012.
The acquisition of Silver State North represents Enbridge's first renewable energy project in the United States. Don Thompson, Enbridge's Vice President of Green Energy said the purchase represents the company's commitment to growing its renewable energy portfolio as well as delivering strong returns to investors: "The U.S. solar market presents significant growth opportunities given the excellent solar resource, supportive regulatory environment and expanding portfolio of solar energy projects."
Silver State North will generate enough energy to power 9,000 homes per year, while aslos displacing roughly 42,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide -- the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off the road.
Renewable energy is a new and relatively small branch of Enbridge's operations. Currently the company has eight wind farms, three solar facilities (excluding Silver State North), and a geothermal project which generate 1,132 megawatts of clean energy.
Alternatively, Enbridge is Canada's largest gas distribution utility, serving around 2 million customers throughout Ontario and Quebec. Additionally, it is Canada's largest transporter of crude oil. The company delivers 2.2 million barrels of crude per day through a network of pipelines covering 24,613 kilometers.
Exporting 65% of Western Canada's oil supply, Enbridge has proposed to build the Northern Gateway Pipeline, a 1,177-kilometer pipeline which would transport 525,000 barrels of crude oil from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia. The oil would then be loaded on supertankers and shipped to international destinations like energy starved China. Much like the Keystone XL pipeline, the project has turned into a political dogfight, galvanizing supporters and protestors across the entire nation.
Image credit: First Solar
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