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NRG Energy Inc. (NRG - Analyst Report) recently completed the purchase of a 250-megawatt (MW) solar project from SunPower Corp. . Located in Southern California, SunPower’s California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) project is backed by a loan guarantee of up to $1.237 billion from the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office. Also, NRG Energy completed the previously announced acquisition of Energy Plus Holdings LLC, adding a unique and compelling sales channel to its retail portfolio.

NRG Energy now bears full ownership responsibility for the California Valley Solar Ranch project. SunPower will complete the project's design and construction, working with Bechtel, which is providing plant engineering and procurement services and construction services. Once completed, NRG Energy and SunPower will jointly operate and maintain the project for two years, and then NRG Energy will assume the sole responsibility for operations and maintenance of the project.

Construction at the California Valley Solar Ranch project began in September 2011, with partial operations expected to start by early 2012. The company expects the remaining operations at the solar plant to also come online later in 2012 and 2013.

NRG Energy expects large-scale solar installations like California Valley Solar Ranch to contribute enormously to the achievement of California's ambitious renewable portfolio standard, while also creating hundreds of jobs during construction. The project is expected to create about 350 jobs in San Luis Obispo County over its two-year construction period.

On completion, the project will be capable of powering nearly 100,000 homes and will be one of the largest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants in the world. Clean, renewable power from California Valley Solar Ranch will be sold to PG&E Corp. (PCG - Analyst Report) through 25-year power purchase agreements that have been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. NRG Energy also owns five other large-scale solar projects in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

NRG Energy’s policy of working with solar companies like SunPower, that offer a cutting-edge, proven technology and solar expertise, has enabled the company to grow as a leading developer of solar power in the country.

Additionally, through the acquisition of Energy Plus, NRG Energy has now grown its retail business to include exclusive loyalty program partnerships, marketing partnerships and direct marketing expertise that enable it to offer a unique value proposition to retail electricity customers.

Energy Plus currently serves more than 180,000 customers, principally in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois. Energy Plus also sells electricity to retail customers in Texas and natural gas in New York and New Jersey.

Based in Princeton, New Jersey, NRG Energy Inc. operates as a wholesale power generation company. The company is also involved in fuel and transportation services, selling energy and related products in the United States and international markets.

NRG Energy presently retains a quantitative Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating) indicating no clear directional pressure on the stock over the near term. We maintain a ‘Neutral’ recommendation on NRG Energy in the long term.

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