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Financing Raised For Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West’s El Centro, California, Power Generating Plant

Area Development Online News Desk (06/13/2014)
An independent energy provider, Tenaska closed on $450 million in commercial financing for its Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, a 150-megawatt photovoltaic solar electric generating plant near El Centro, California.

The company plans to begin construction on Tenaska Imperial West later this year, with commercial operation expected in 2016. Like Tenaska Imperial South, Tenaska Imperial West will provide clean, renewable energy to San Diego Gas & Electric Company under a 25-year power purchase agreement via SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink transmission line.

Tenaska Imperial West, the firm’s second utility-scale project in the region, will be the 17th power generation project Tenaska has developed, financed and constructed, and its second solar facility.

The company said it has approximately 5,000 MW of natural gas-fueled and renewable projects in pre-financing development, including more than 250 MW of solar power in Imperial County, California, and the 800-MW, natural gas-fueled Tenaska Brownsville Generating Station in Texas expected to begin commercial operation in 2017.

"We have a 27-year history of taking power projects from concept to reality and delivering them on time and within budget," said David Kirkwood, Tenaska Vice President/Treasurer. "Now we're leveraging our experience developing natural gas-fueled power plants for solar electric generation. Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West's oversubscription and successful financing demonstrate the strength of the project."

An affiliate of Tenaska developed Tenaska Imperial West and before that Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South, a 130-MW, utility-scale solar plant also near El Centro in Southern California's Imperial Valley. Tenaska Imperial South began commercial operation Nov. 1, 2013.

First Solar, Inc. is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for Tenaska Imperial West. The facility will use First Solar's advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules with single-axis tracking to follow the sun for greater power generation. First Solar was the EPC contractor for Tenaska Imperial South and now operates the facility under a contract with Tenaska.

An affiliate of Tenaska is the majority owner of Tenaska Imperial West. An affiliate of Silver Ridge Power, LLC owns a minority interest in the project. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, BNP Paribas, Royal Bank of Canada, Santander Bank, Helaba and DZ Bank led the bank group. Riverside Risk Advisors assisted Tenaska in designing and executing its interest rate risk management program.

"Achieving financial closing for our second utility-scale solar project represents a significant milestone for Tenaska. The project is moving forward on schedule," said Greg Kelly, Tenaska President, Development, "and we're looking forward to starting construction."

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