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Google buys a stake in Galt solar project

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Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 5:56 am, Thu Dec 22, 2011.

Google Inc. said this it's teaming with Wall Street private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. to buy a majority stake in four solar farms under construction in Galt and Elk Grove.

The solar farms, developed by a San Francisco company called Recurrent Energy, have a 20-year contract to sell electricity to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. The farms are expected to generate enough electricity to power 13,000 homes.

Google, which has been investing in renewable energy lately, said it is spending $94 million for its share of the solar farms. KKR wouldn't disclose its financial commitment.

Recurrent will manage the solar farms and will retain a minority ownership stake, said company Chief Executive Arno Harris.

SMUD signed a supply contract with the company last year to purchase electricity at set rates. The contract effectively commissioned the San Francisco company to build the solar facilities on a group of wheat and alfalfa farms. Recurrent wouldn't say how much it's spending to build the facilities.

The Recurrent project is one of several solar farms commissioned by SMUD in the past year.

Sherri Eklof, SMUD's senior power contract specialist, said three of the four Recurrent farms are expected to be completed by the end of March. The fourth will be done sometime later in the year.

Harris said Recurrent typically looks for outside investors to help fund its projects, and "found a lot of interest" in the Sacramento facilities.

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