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Buffett Buys into Solar

First Solar Sells Topaz

Written by Brianna Panzica
Posted December 7, 2011

First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR), one of the largest solar companies in the United States, has a reason to celebrate.

On Wednesday morning, the company announced good news for its Topaz Solar Farm, a $2 billion project and currently one of the top two solar projects in the world.

Warren Buffett’s utility unit, MidAmerican Energy Holdings, has agreed to buy the solar farm for an undisclosed amount.

First Solar began construction on the 550-megawatt farm this fall, and Forbes reports that the company expects construction to be completed by 2015.

The project will create up to 400 jobs in construction and an additional 15 on-site jobs during the lifetime of the farm, according to the article.

First Solar will still remain in charge of operations and maintenance after the construction is complete, but ownership will go to MidAmerican.

The energy from this farm, enough to supply power to around 160,000 homes, will go to Pacific Gas and Electric in a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Greg Abel, CEO of MidAmerican, has expressed excitement about the deal in his press release:

“…the Topaz project will allow MidAmerican to produce renewable energy for thousands of Californians. This project also demonstrates that solar energy is a commercially viable technology without the support of governmental loan guarantees.”

First Solar had attempted and failed to receive a loan guarantee from the U.S. government before creating the deal with MidAmerican.

This deal will allow the project to push ahead and, like the SolarStrong program, stay afloat without a loan guarantee.

First Solar was up 11.09% on Wednesday to $51.22.

That’s all for now,

Brianna

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