By Michael Kanellos
Arizona is California, when it comes to solar.
Pacific Gas & Electric (NYSE:PCG) announced it has signed a deal with Aqua Caliente Solar, a division of NextLight Renewable Power, to obtain 290 megawatts worth of power from a power plant to be built in Yuma County Arizona. The plant will start delivering power in 2012 and become fully operational by 2014. Thus, it won't help PG&E hit its "20 percent by 2010" goal but will be there for the 33 percent by 2020 goal.
PG&E earlier this year contracted with NextLight for 230 megawatts in a power plant to be built in Antelope Valley, California.
With its ample supplies of desert land and a comparatively smaller population, Arizona boosters have increasingly talked about being a venue for exporting power to California. In a sense, it's a continuation of what was accomplished with the Hoover Dam, which supplies water and power to the Southwest to regions that aren't even close to the river or the dam itself. Although some solar companies are putting power plants on land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, others are looking at private plots of land. An auction of desert land in Arizona pitched as an ideal location for solar farms sold for $2.6 million at auction earlier this year.