Construction is scheduled to start early this year on the 250-megawatt (MW) California Valley Solar Ranch Project in San Luis Obispo County. This huge new solar-power plant will create approximately 350 jobs during construction, will power about 100,000 homes and will be one of the largest photovoltaic power plants in the world when completed.

NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, plans to invest up to $450 million in the project over the next four years. Subject to certain conditions, NRG will assume all ownership and financing responsibilities for the Solar Ranch. SunPower Corp., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar technology, will design, build, operate and maintain the power plant.

A portion of the project is expected to begin operating by the end of 2011, with the balance coming online in 2012 and 2013. When operational, the solar power plant will be significant contribution toward California’s 33 percent renewable portfolio standard goal.

“California Valley Solar Ranch will be an important component of our multitechnology portfolio of clean, zero-emission solar power facilities,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Solar. “We are pursuing large-scale photovoltaic projects across the Southwest and working with like-minded companies that can ensure our projects will be exceptionally successful. SunPower has the proven technology and experience building solar-power plants around the world to deliver a well-designed solar project that will be a major contributor to helping California meet its ambitious renewable portfolio standard by the end of the decade.”

California Valley Solar Ranch has executed 25-year power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas & Electric for delivery of the 250 MW. The California Public Utilities Commission has approved the agreements. The closing of the NRG and SunPower agreements is subject to the satisfaction of customary-closing conditions and the completion of development, including obtaining required permits and regulatory approvals.