SolarWorld president: Duke deal not a 'Hail Mary' pass

SolarWorld's TwentyNine Palms project will become part of Duke Energy.

SolarWorld's TwentyNine Palms project will become part of Duke Energy.

SolarWorld Americas president says while the sale of two commercial solar projects to a powerhouse East Coast utility is critical to his company’s fortunes, it’s by no means a “Hail Mary” in terms of ensuring the company’s future.

Kevin Kilkelly said the sale of the Highlander Solar 1 and 2 projects to Duke Energy Renewables will help reinforce the company’s Hillsboro operations.

“The deal speaks a lot to SolarWorld’s bankability,” said Kilkelly. “They’re not going to cut a deal with someone that’s not going to be viable for a long time. SolarWorld is going to be around ... This isn’t a ‘Hail Mary’ pass, it’s something we can springboard from and it will make us a stronger operation.”

SolarWorld didn’t announce terms of the deal. Kilkelly said proceeds will go into the company’s Hillsboro facility, as well as other projects going forward.

The Highlander projects are located near Twentynine Palms, Calif. The Highlander Solar 1 and 2 projects will be run as a single operation and will collectively generate 21 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to power more than 4,000 average-sized homes, each year.

The project will become Duke’s largest commercial solar farm in the nation. Duke has increasingly invested in renewable projects over the past several years. The company has so far put $2.5 billion into solar and other renewable endeavors.

Southern California Edison will buy all output generated by the project through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

SolarWorld bought the sites, through self-financing, last May. At the peak of construction, the project employed more than 200 workers, the majority of whom live in communities surrounding Twentynine Palms.

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