Sumitomo to invest in massive U.S. solar project

LOS ANGELES Tue Oct 2, 2012 3:54pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Japan's Sumitomo Corp on Tuesday said it would take a 25 percent stake in a 550-megawatt solar power project in California, giving the trading house a foothold in the growing U.S. solar industry.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The company, which has stakes in four U.S. wind projects, joins GE Energy Financial Services and NextEra Energy Resources as an investor in the Desert Sunlight solar farm located in Riverside County.

Sumitomo made its investment by buying a part of GE's stake, it said in a statement.

The photovoltaic solar project is being built by First Solar Inc and has agreements in place to provide power to California utilities Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric. It is expected to be fully operational by 2015, according to First Solar's website.

Last year the U.S. Department of Energy agreed to back part of $1.46 billion in loans for the Desert Sunlight project as part of its program to aid alternative energy development.

Sumitomo said it will continue to seek opportunities to invest in solar and other renewable energy projects in the United States and Canada. The company has also made investments in U.S. fossil fuel assets. In August it said it would take a 30 percent stake in shale acreage controlled by Devon Energy Corp in the Permian Basin in Texas in a $1.4 billion deal.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Maureen Bavdek and Prudence Crowther)

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