Southern Company subsidiary to top 300 MW of total solar generating capacity with acquisition of new California facility

Oct 23, 2014, 11:20 ET from Southern Company

ATLANTA, Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power today announced the acquisition of the 150-megawatt (MW) Solar Gen 2 solar facility in California from First Solar, Inc. As the largest solar facility in the Southern Power portfolio, Solar Gen 2 is expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 60,000 average California homes.

"Our strategic renewable development has earned Southern Company a reputation as a national leader in solar," said Southern Company Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas A. Fanning. "Expanding our partnership with First Solar – a global renewable leader – will help us continue to develop a more diverse energy mix for America."

The Solar Gen 2 project spans three sites – each of which is approximately a 50-MW grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) system – comprising a combined 1,451 acres of land in Imperial County, California. The project will consist of more than one million thin-film PV solar modules mounted on single-axis tracking tables manufactured by First Solar.

"We value the strong, successful track record we have with Southern Power," said First Solar Chief Executive Officer Jim Hughes. "We're pleased to continue that relationship with Solar Gen 2 and we look forward to further opportunities to work together."

The Solar Gen 2 facility is being built and will be operated and maintained by First Solar. Construction of the project began in 2013. Completion of the project is expected to occur later in the fourth quarter 2014. Southern Power will initially own 100 percent of the project, with First Solar agreeing to acquire a minority interest subject to certain terms and upon fulfillment of certain conditions.

Electricity generated by the plant is contracted to serve a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), a subsidiary of Sempra Energy. Headquartered in San Diego, SDG&E provides energy service to 3.4 million people through 1.4 million electric meters and 850,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.

Southern Power has previously acquired seven solar facilities with Turner Renewable Energy, with Southern Power's ownership of the facilities totaling 262 MW. The acquisition of Solar Gen 2 is expected to increase the total Southern Power-owned solar capacity to 338 MW. The total generation capacity of the eight projects is anticipated to be 441 MW.

The acquisition fits Southern Power's business strategy of growing the wholesale business in targeted markets through acquiring generating assets and building new units, the output of which is significantly covered by long-term contracts. California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. The RPS program requires investor-owned utilities, publicly owned utilities, electric service providers and community choice aggregators to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33 percent of retail sales by the end of 2020.

Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is a leading U.S. wholesale energy provider, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. With this acquisition, Southern Power and its subsidiaries will own and operate 18 facilities in eight states, with more than 8,900 MW of generating capacity operating or under construction in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas.

First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company's integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar's renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. www.firstsolar.com.

With 4.4 million customers and nearly 46,000 megawatts of generating capacity, Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is the premier energy company serving the Southeast through its subsidiaries. A leading U.S. producer of clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity, Southern Company owns electric utilities in four states and a growing competitive generation company, as well as fiber optics and wireless communications. Southern Company brands are known for energy innovation, excellent customer service, high reliability and retail electric prices that are below the national average. Southern Company and its subsidiaries are leading the nation's nuclear renaissance through the construction of the first new nuclear units to be built in a generation of Americans and are demonstrating their commitment to energy innovation through the development of a state-of-the-art coal gasification plant. Southern Company has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and G.I. Jobs magazine as a top military employer and listed by DiversityInc as a top company for Blacks. The company received the 2012 Edison Award from the Edison Electric Institute for its leadership in new nuclear development, was named Electric Light & Power magazine's Utility of the Year for 2012 and is continually ranked among the top utilities in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Electric and Gas Utility rankings. Visit our website at www.southerncompany.com.

Cautionary Notes Regarding Forward-Looking Statements:

First Solar

This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include statements, among other things, concerning: our business strategy, including anticipated trends and developments in and management plans for our business and the markets in which we operate; future financial results, operating results, revenues, gross margin, operating expenses, products, projected costs, warranties, solar module efficiency and balance of systems ("BoS") cost reduction roadmaps, restructuring, product reliability and capital expenditures; our ability to continue to reduce the cost per watt of our solar modules; our ability to reduce the costs to construct photovoltaic ("PV") solar power systems; research and development programs and our ability to improve the conversion efficiency of our solar modules; sales and marketing initiatives; and competition. These forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of words such as "estimate," "expect," "anticipate," "project," "plan," "intend," "believe," "forecast," "foresee," "likely," "may," "should," "goal," "target," "might," "will," "could," "predict," "continue" and the negative or plural of these words and other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on our current expectations and our projections about future events. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements for any reason. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, the matters discussed in Item 1A: "Risk Factors," of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other reports filed with the SEC.

Southern Company and Southern Power

Certain information contained in this release is forward-looking information based on current expectations and plans that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements concerning the completion of construction and subsequent operation of the Solar Gen 2 facility. Southern Company and Southern Power caution that there are certain factors that can cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information that has been provided. The reader is cautioned not to put undue reliance on this forward-looking information, which is not a guarantee of future performance and is subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside the control of Southern Company and Southern Power; accordingly, there can be no assurance that such suggested results will be realized. The following factors, in addition to those discussed in each of Southern Company's and Southern Power's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013, and subsequent securities filings, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking information: ability to control costs and avoid cost overruns during the development and construction of facilities, including changes in labor costs and productivity factors, adverse weather conditions, shortages and inconsistent quality of equipment, materials, and labor, contractor or supplier delay, non-performance under construction or other agreements, and/or operations; ability to construct facilities in accordance with the requirements of permits and licenses, to satisfy any operational and environmental performance standards, including the requirements of tax credits and other incentives, and to integrate facilities or operations; and potential business strategies, including acquisitions or dispositions of assets or businesses, which cannot be assured to be completed or beneficial to Southern Company and Southern Power. Southern Company and Southern Power expressly disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking information.

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