SunPower Corporation (SPWRA) has received approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) for a contract under which it will sell energy to Hawaiian Electric Company, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (HE). The power will be generated from the 5-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) farm built by the company.
Based in Kalaeloa in West Oahu, the facility will be designed, built and operated by SunPower. The company plans to begin the construction of the solar farm in 2011 and complete it within five months, subject to receipt of applicable permits. It will be located on land leased from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands at Roosevelt Avenue and Boxer Road.
SunPower will install high-efficiency SunPower solar panels on a SunPower T0 Tracker system, which moves the solar panels to follow the sun during the day. This tracker system has the capability to capture 25% more sunlight over fixed-tilt systems and will also significantly reduce land requirements. With SunPower's high-efficiency technology, Hawaiian Electric will benefit from a reliable, cost-effective and guaranteed performance. Hawaii is a national leader in adding solar watts per person and this project will help in reducing its use of imported oil and increase solar leadership.
The agreement is the first utility-scale solar project in Oahu approved by the PUC. The contract is a result of Hawaiian Electric's request for proposals for renewable energy projects for Oahu issued under PUC's competitive bidding framework in 2008.
The solar farm will contribute clean, renewable solar power to Oahu while generating revenue for the important work of the Hawaiian Homelands department on behalf of native Hawaiians. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates, the solar farm will produce enough renewable power to avoid almost 11,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, equivalent to removing 37,600 cars from Hawaii's roads over the 20-year term of the power purchase agreement.
SunPower’s customer base is spread across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. We are bullish on the company due to its diversified channel strategy with a strong presence in the residential and commercial market, along with its status as a conversion efficiency leader. The company also has a steadfast focus on spreading its revenue stream by climbing the solar value chain.
However, we are concerned about its higher cost structure vis-à-vis its peers, an oversupply glut of solar panels in the market, subsidy roll back risk in Europe and rising competition. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) that corresponds with our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.
Based in San Jose, California, SunPower designs, develops, manufactures, markets and sells high-performance solar electric power technology products, systems and servicesworldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers.The company’s semiconductor-based solar cells and solar panels, which convert sunlight into electricity, are manufactured using proprietary processes and technologies.
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