First Solar shares soar on restart of LA project

AP News
Posted: Jun 22, 2012 11:28 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of First Solar Inc. surged more than 10 percent Friday, after the company said it reached a deal with Los Angeles County officials to install solar modules at a power plant that's currently under construction.

THE SPARK: Under the agreement with the L.A. County Department of Public Works, First Solar will install modules at the Solar Ranch One photovoltaic power plant currently under construction in northern Los Angeles County.

THE BIG PICTURE: Solar companies have struggled over the past year, battered by the weak economy, lower global demand and competition from cheap imports.

Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar is developing and building several large solar farms in California and the Southwest. It typically sells the projects to large power producers that then market and sell the electricity generated by the panels.

The deal with Los Angeles allows First Solar to continue building the 230-megawatt power plant. Installation of the modules had been delayed until First Solar and the county could reach a deal related to module health and safety code certifications.

Work on the project originally began in August. First Solar said it expects to ramp up staffing for the project over the next several weeks and to complete the plant by 2013.

THE SHARES: Up $1.23, or 8.5 percent, to $15.77 in morning trading, after peaking at $16.42 earlier in the day. Over the past 52 weeks, the company's shares have traded between $11.43 and $142.22.

Over the past year, the company's shares have lost about 88 percent of their value.