Google, KKR Invest in California Solar Projects Powering 13,000 U.S. Homes

By Andrew Herndon – Dec 20, 2011 4:00 AM MT

Google Inc. (GOOG), owner of the world’s most popular Internet search engine, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) invested in four California solar farms that will provide enough clean power for about 13,000 U.S. homes.

The projects totaling 88 megawatts of capacity will be built next year near Sacramento by Recurrent Energy Inc., a unit of Sharp Corp., Google and KKR said today in a statement. This is the first investment in grid-connected photovoltaic solar power by Google, which said it has invested more than $915 million in renewable-energy projects.

It also is the first clean-energy investment in the U.S. by KKR, which invested through SunTap Energy RE LLC, its newly formed U.S. solar investment unit, according to the statement. Google invested $94 million, and KKR provided a portion of the $95 million it has committed to SunTap.

The plants will generate cash from power sales to Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which will pay for the generated electricity at above-market rates as part of a feed-in tariff program that began this year. The 20-year contracts of the program offer 7.5 cents to 27.6 cents a kilowatt-hour depending on the time of delivery.

Google has invested in other forms of solar energy, including $168 million in BrightSource Energy Inc.’s Ivanpah solar-thermal power plant in southern California. It also provided $280 million earlier this year to SolarCity Corp. and $75 million for Clean Power Finance Inc. to finance rooftop photovoltaic installations for more than 10,000 U.S. homeowners.

KKR, which had $58.7 billion in assets under management as of Sept. 30, has two other renewable-energy investments. It invested in Spanish solar-energy company T-Solar Global SA and in wind parks Sorgenia SpA is developing in France, according to the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Herndon in San Francisco ataherndon2@bloomberg.net

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