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First Solar May Sell Cheapest Solar Power, Less Than Coal

Feb 1, 2013
Source: 
(Bloomberg)

First Solar Inc. (FSLR), the world’s largest thin-film solar manufacturer, may receive the lowest rates ever for selling U.S. solar power, less than electricity from new coal plants, for a project it purchased in New Mexico, according to a regulatory filing.

First Solar bought the 50-megawatt Macho Springs project from Element Power Solar, according to a statement yesterday. El Paso Electric Co. (EE) agreed to buy the power for 5.79 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to a Jan. 22 procedural order from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

That’s less than half the 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour average price for new coal plants, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Thin-film photovoltaic power typically sells for 16.3 cents a kilowatt-hour, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The price would be “the lowest solar power purchase agreement price we have ever seen,” Aaron Chew, an analyst at Maxim Group LLC in New York, said in an e-mail. It’s less than half the price that First Solar will get for its Antelope Valley, Topaz, and Agua Caliente projects, he said.