SunPower and OG&E Electric Services plan to start construction next month on a 10-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant near Covington.

The two companies signed a contract to build the plant Tuesday, and plan to have it operational by early 2018, according to the SunPower press release.

Photovoltaic power panels turn sunlight into electricity at an atomic level, thereby generating electrons. More information can be found at

 The PV panels at the Covington site will rotate to follow the sun throughout the day, said Kathleen O’Shea, OG&E corporate communications manager.

SunPower produces the technology that allows the panels to track the sun, said James Diven, SunPower director.

SunPower also will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the plant, which will sit on 80 acres, said O’Shea. The 10-megawatt plant will create enough electricity to serve approximately 1,000 homes, according to a SunPower press release.

The cost to build the plant is around $15 million to $18 million, O’Shea said, and the Covington site was chosen for a variety of reasons, including “high solar irradiance and minimal shadowing issues.”

The site will create about 75 jobs during peak construction of the plant, said Diven. He said the company also has seen that solar power plant construction helps create “economic development in the form of increased commerce for local businesses and suppliers and tax revenues.”

SunPower has 3 gigawatts of solar plants operating internationally, according to its website. One gigawatt is about what 100 million LED bulbs would consume, and what about 4.6 million photovoltaic panels would produce, according to

O’Shea said OG&E built a solar farm near Mustang in 2015, and the Covington location plant is an extension of the company’s project for solar power. The response of OG&E customers to the pilot program in Mustang, which offered customers a chance to get a percentage of their electricity on their bill marked as solar power, was what helped OG&E decide to establish another farm, O’Shea said.

 “Now we’re going to learn even more about solar power,” O’Shea said.

She said the first data the company received from the Mustang solar farm showed a production graph that looked like a bell curve throughout the day, with low points in the morning and evening and peaks during the middle of the day; but, closer looks at the hours and minutes showed that different weather and light conditions can impact production, such as clouds passing over the sun having a negative impact on production by the minute or a really bright full moon generating some energy throughout the night.

The electricity generated by the plant will add an additional 10 megawatts to the supply, O’Shea said. OG&E currently has about 6,800 megawatts of capacity that comes through a variety of fuel types, which are broken down on their website.

The panels will be cleaned by robots, which Diven said uses 75 percent less water to clean panels than other methods, and regular cleaning can help to increase energy output.

Story provided by:  Enid News & Eagle