First Solar is in the process of selling a 10 GW utility-scale solar project platform to Leeward Renewable Energy Development in a $261 million transaction. Leeward is a portfolio company of OMERS Infrastructure, an investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest benefit pension plans. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.
The deal includes the Rabbitbrush, Madison, Oak Trail, Horizon, and Ridgely projects, which are expected to go under construction in the United States in the next two years, and the 30 MW Barilla Solar project, which is operational. The project pipeline includes projects in the California, Southwest, and Southeast markets. Key members of the First Solar project development team are also expected to join Leeward upon closing.
The sale of the platform is a result of a strategic review First Solar announced in 2020; that is intended to enable the company to focus on scaling, developing, and selling module technology.
Leeward also will buy 650 MW of First Solar’s Series 6 PV solar modules for its additional development opportunities. Leeward’s acquisition includes purchase orders for 888 MW of Series 6 modules for the five development projects. Leeward’s acquisition will include 242 MW of Series 4 modules safe-harbored under the solar investment tax credit (ITC) program, 148 MW of which have previously been booked.
“This acquisition will support our aggressive growth strategy as a leading independent power producer and elevate Leeward’s prominent position in today’s energy market,” said Jason Allen, CEO of Leeward Renewable Energy.
The sale is subject to a number of closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approval from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, and review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
First Solar will retain 1.1 GW of projects in the U.S. that it stated will be sold separately. The company has 1.9 GW of annualized manufacturing capacity in Ohio and also operates manufacturing facilities in Vietnam and Malaysia. It produced 5.9 GW of Series 6 modules globally in 2020.
REGlobal’s Views: The sale would help First Solar focus on its core operations of manufacturing modules while also generating cash flow from the assets.