The success of the SEGS plants provides an important operating track record for parabolic trough projects, giving lenders greater comfort regarding the technological and financial viability of new projects (most notably in Spain) that use the technology. Significantly, the SEGS plants have operated on an ongoing basis since their installation.
In 1983, Luz negotiated an agreement with Southern California Edison (“SCE”) to sell power from its parabolic trough power plants, SEGS 1 and SEGS 2. Later, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) developed a standard offer power purchase agreement for qualifying independent power producer (IPP) facilities. It was under this type of contract with SCE that Luz developed the SEGS projects 3 through 9. Initially, PURPA limited the plants to 30 MW in size but later this limit was raised to 80 MW. Each of the nine SEGS plants was developed as an independent power producer, selling power to SCE under the terms of the standard offer power purchase agreement. Since then, the SEGS plants have changed ownership a number of times. First they were acquired by Solel, a company established by former Luz employees; they now are owned by FPL Energy.
Operation of the SEGS plants has given the industry extensive experience regarding operation and maintenance methods, as well as technical design and reliability. The commercial maturity of parabolic trough technology has driven its widespread adoption by developers and investors of large-scale CSP projects in Europe and the United States.