Solar Plant Surpasses Expectations in First Year of Operation

A solar electric power plant in California has completed its first year of operation, and officials say the performance has exceeded expectations.

NEWARK, Delaware, US, 2001-05-23 <> AstroPower Inc. and GPU say the 15,000 square foot PV generating facility in Hopland generated more than 163,000 kWh in its first year, about 7 percent higher than predictions. The 132 kW plant is owned and operated by GPU Solar, a joint venture of AstroPower and GPU Diversified Holdings, in cooperation with Green Mountain Energy Company, PowerLight Corporation, and Real Goods Trading Corporation (now a division of Gaiam) “In the current energy crisis in California, marked by energy shortages and volatile pricing, clean power from the GPU Solar plant at Hopland offers consumers a steady, dependable source of electricity at a fixed cost,” says James Torpey, president of GPU Solar. The facility is the first grid-connected PV power plant built exclusively to meet the needs of California’s deregulated electricity market. It is located at the Real Goods Solar Living Center in Hopland, a retail and teaching site that attracts 150,000 visitors a year. The Hopland plant was designed and constructed by PowerLight and features one of the largest operating solar electric power arrays in the state of California. Green Mountain Energy purchases the output under a fixed-priced multi-year power-purchase agreement, and supplies the electricity directly to the California grid. “We could not be happier with the plant’s performance,” says AstroPower vice president Howard Wenger. “This plant is one more example of how solar power delivers energy price stability and does so with zero pollution.” GPU Solar recently completed a 100 kW solar plant in Berkeley that will generate 135,000 kWh of electricity for the California grid this year. AstroPower is based in Newark, Delaware, and claims to be the world’s largest independent manufacturer of PV products. It manufactures and sells solar cells, modules, panels and systems for both off-grid and on-grid applications. GPU of Morristown, New Jersey, is a registered public utility holding company that provides utility services to 4.6 million customers in the United States, United Kingdom and Argentina. It serves another 1.4 million customers with natural gas in Australia and reported 2000 revenue of $5.2 billion and total assets of $19.3 billion. Its other subsidiaries include GPU Nuclear.

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