First Solar Project Clears Planning Hitch

By Patric Hedlund for The Mountain Enterprise
NEENACH / FAIRMONT / WESTERN ANTELOPE VALLEY, CA ( Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.)—Kim Szalay of the Los Angeles County Planning Department has just confirmed to The Mountain Enterprise that the " First Solar, Inc. project in the Western Antelope Valley is moving forward without any major hitch: "the project is continuing to operate under a Conditional Use Permit; We had a temporary hold for a minor revision and that hold has been released in a ministerial judgement and the project is continuing to build." The Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One (AVSR1) location is at 170th St. West, off of Highway 138 (in the Lancaster zip code).

First Solar stock dropped 10 percent on Friday, Feb. 10 after a hold-up in permits from L.A. County was mentioned in SEC filings. Analysts saw the hitch as a possible threat to the sale of  the projected 230MW AVSR1 solar farm to energy giant Exelon for $75 million if the permits were not perfected by February 24. There was also a $646 Million federal loan guarantee that analysts feared might be at risk.

NEENACH / FAIRMONT / WESTERN ANTELOPE VALLEY, CA (Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 at 7 a.m.)—In a report about the stock of First Solar, Inc. tumbling 9 percent on Friday, the political and economic challenges to the company’s Antelope Valley First Solar Ranch One (AVSR1) project were reviewed by CNNMoney yesterday. The company may be in danger of losing its sale of AVSR1 to Exelon, analysts said, after reviewing a Securities and Exchange filing which mentions a hold-up on a permit that could endanger federal loan guarantees of $646 million.

If the issue is not resolved by February 24, CNN analysts wrote, the sale may be lost. Exelon is said to have already paid $75 million for the AVSR1 plant. First Solar spokespersons said they would be able to find another buyer, and that the 25 year contract for renewable energy to PG&E (PCG) would not be lost.

First Solar produces the photovoltaic panels for the project. Under the current arrangement, it also builds and operates the facility for Exelon.

"Volatility is nothing new for First Solar (FSLR) shares, and the firm’s stock remains up over 30% so far this year," the CNNMoney analysis added.


This is part of the February 10, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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