Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"First Solar’s Projects: The Truth and Everything Else" (FSLR)

From Greentech:

Media reports and research notes have popped up lately to raise questions about some of First Solar’s long list of pending projects in western United States.

First Solar gets a lot of love and scrutiny from investors and members of the media. And lately, there have been a series of reports and speculations about changes to some of First Solar's solar farm projects under development in western United States.

So we asked First Solar's spokesman Alan Bernheimer about some of these reports. Over several emails, he confirmed some details and refuted others. Here is an update about the various projects that are being bandied about:

BLM Canceled Four Projects In California?: A research note from Wedbush Securities said the federal Bureau of Land Management appears to have canceled right-of-way applications for four projects by First Solar, though First Solar still has time to appeal the federal agency's decision for two of the projects.

The first two projects are called Amber (500-megawatt) and Jasper (500 megawatt). The other two that could be reinstated are Ruby (1-gigawatt) and Onyx (585-megawatt), according to Wedbush (via The research note sought to emphasize the difficulties of developing large-scale projects in the United States.

First Solar said the projects are not dead. "It's premature to say that any First Solar project applications have been cancelled by the BLM," Bernheimer said. He did say that the company has received letters from the BLM asking First Solar to show that it's continuing to work on these projects in order to keep the applications current.

"First Solar is reviewing its project portfolio to determine priority based on a variety of factors, including near-term transmission capacity and other potential constraints. If we do decide to withdraw from any projects, it will be in order to focus our work with BLM district offices on higher priority projects that have fewer constraints, freeing up both First Solar and BLM resources to devote to nearer-term projects," Bernheimer said in an email.

About That 55-megawatt Project with the Los Angeles Utility: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power supposedly has dropped a 55-megawatt project on land owned by LADWP in Imperial County, a project that First Solar announced in August this year....MORE