Apple has announced a partnership with First Solar to build a solar plant in Monterey County, California. Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar builds solar power plants and manufactures solar panels. The solar plant will be located within the California Flats project on the 73,000-acre Jack Ranch in Monterey County. Apple’s investment in the project is expected to be about $848 million.
The announcement of the partnership was made at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco. The 1,300-acre solar plant will power Apple’s data center in Newark, Calif., its new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., and all Apple offices and 52 Apple stores in California. Apple CEO Tim Cook called the venture Apple’s “biggest and boldest project ever.”
The California Flats Solar Project is expected to start construction in mid-2015 and be completed by the end of next year. The solar project may be one of the largest ever built for a commercial user. The project is expected to reduce Apple’s energy costs by a significant amount. Under a 25-year purchase agreement, Apple will receive electricity from 130 megawatts of capacity, enough to provide power to about 50,000 homes in California. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will receive the remaining 150 megawatts.
The news was announced shortly after the opening of the world’s largest solar power plant in Southern California. The Desert Sunlight solar project in the town of Desert Center, Calif., near Joshua Tree National Park was opened on Monday. The Desert Sunlight project, built by First Solar, generates about 550 megawatts of power, enough to power 160,000 California homes.
This is not the first investment that Apple has made in solar power. Most of Apple’s data centers are powered with solar power. Apple announced last week that it would spend $2 billion over 10 years to create a solar-powered data center on the site of a failed sapphire glass plant in Arizona.
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