Sempra expanding the US' largest solar complex

The entire output of the 100MW capacity expansion will be sold through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison.

Sempra US Gas & Power has announced plans to expand its Mesquite Solar complex in Arlington, Arizona. 

Construction is set to begin on Mesquite Solar 2 this fall, according to a company news release, and will comprise 100 megawatts (MW) in new generating capacity – enough to power 45,000 homes. 

Subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, the entire output of the new generation will be sold through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The facility interconnects to the power grid at the Hassayampa Switchyard, a major energy hub that provides access to consumer markets throughout the western US, according to a company representative. 

“We are pleased to support Southern California Edison's commitment to diversify its growing renewable energy portfolio through the development of Mesquite Solar 2,” said Sempra's renewables president Kevin Sagara. “The expansion of our landmark Mesquite Solar complex reflects the progressive vision and leadership by the state of Arizona and Maricopa County, and we look forward to delivering a new supply of clean, emission-free energy to California consumers.”

Mesquite Solar 1, which generates 150MW of power, was completed in 2012, with all of its production sold to California's Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) through a 20-year PPA. All told, the 4,000-acre Mesquite Solar facility is one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the US.

The company announced in August that when the third phase of the Mesquite solar array is completed, its entire 150MW generating capacity will be sold to the US Navy through a 25-year PPA, making it the largest renewable energy purchase by the US government to date. The energy will be used to provide 30 percent of total power demand to 14 military bases in California.

The Navy plans to add 1 gigawatt of renewable energy generation to its bases by 2020 as part of President Barack Obama's 2013 directive that 20 percent of government energy should come from renewable sources.

The Mesquite Solar expansion is part of Sempra's push to grow its portfolio of solar generation to 1,000MW by the end of 2016. Other growth endeavors include construction of the 94MW Copper Mountain Solar 4 project in Nevada, also set for completion by the end of 2016.

A subsidiary of energy services holding company Sempra Energy, which saw $11 billion in profits in 2014, Sempra US Gas & Power's full portfolio of renewable and natural gas generation reportedly provides enough generation to power 600,000 homes.