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Landmark Manufacturing, Generation Solar Deal Struck in San Antonio

San Antonio's goal of becoming a renewable energy hub took a major step forward this week with the announcement that a $100 million manufacturing operation was moving into the city to help serve a 400-megawatt (MW) solar project.

The deal pulled together by San Antonio municipal utility CPS Energy accomplishes a few things. It makes official a 25-year power purchase agreement reached with OCI Solar Power, which will develop, own and operate the solar generation facilities across Texas. OCI put together a consortium as it bid for the CPS project, and part of that group is Nexolon America, a subsidiary of Korean-based Nexolon. 

According to the agreement, Nexolon will build a high-tech manufacturing facility to produce components such as modules, trackers and inverters for the North American market. The OCI consortium will add more than 800 long-term jobs, including more than 400 in the manufacturing facility. Additional jobs will be created to build the solar facilities. Also, both OCI Solar Power and Nexolon America will set up headquarters in San Antonio.

The deal has an estimated annual economic impact of about $700 million, and it comes with $1 billion in projected construction investment. CPS said it plans to bring the first 50-MW plant — located in San Antonio — online by 2013. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the 400 MW will take four years to complete. Other facilities will include a 35-MW plant in an adjacent county, a 105-MW plant about 120 miles north of San Antonio, a 105-MW plant in West Texas and a 105-MW plant in North Texas.

According to CPS Energy, the manufacturing-to-generation deal is the first of its kind, and the size of the 400-MW project certainly sets it apart from any other municipal utility solar development. The project itself started out as a much smaller endeavor last year, but quickly grew eight-fold to 400 MW once bids came in reflecting the plummeting prices of PV.

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