CalPERS to buy 25% stake in California’s Desert Sunlight

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CalPERS will own a 25% stake in the Desert Sunlight PV projects. Credit: First Solar

Pension fund, The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) has agreed to purchase a 25% stake in Desert Sunlight Investment Holdings, the owner of two major solar PV projects with a combined capacity of 550MW near Palm Springs, California.

The two solar facilities began commercial operations in late 2014 providing electricity to California utility companies under long-term contracts. The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, which was developed by First Solar, is co-owned by NextEra Energy Resources, NRG Energy, and Sumitomo Corporation of America.

CalPERS will purchase the ownership stake from Sumitomo Corporation of Americas through its Gulf Pacific Power (GPP) account, which is a partnership between CalPERS and Harbert Management Corporation, one of its external infrastructure investment managers.

CalPERS' Infrastructure programme, which aims to hold ownership of essential infrastructure assets that provide predictable returns with moderate long-term inflation protection, had a net asset value of approximately US$2.3 billion as of 31 January this year.

Ted Eliopoulos, CalPERS chief investment officer, said: “Desert Sunlight presents a great opportunity for CalPERS, allowing us to invest both in California and in clean, renewable energy. Infrastructure has been one of our best performing programmes and is an important part of the CalPERS portfolio.”

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