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Apple Computer plans to power up with solar energy generated in Monterey County

Flickr member ptwo

A massive solar project planned near the Monterey- San Luis Obispo County line will be paid for in part by Apple Computer, and could be the largest solar deal of its kind in history.

Apple Computer says it's committing $848 million to help build the California Flats Solar Project. In exchange the company gets a 25-year power source, tapping nearly half of the farm's 280 megawatts.

That energy will run Apple Computer's Cupertino headquarters, a data center and some 52 Apple Stores throughout the state. 

In January, the Monterey County Planning Commission unanimously approved the California Flats project. It will sit on 2,900 acres of Hearst Corporation property near the San Luis Obispo County border and Highway 41.

Apple is teaming with First Solar, the company behind the farm, and several other large solar projects on the Central Coast.

First Solar says the deal is the largest in the industry to provide clean energy to a commercial end user. The remainder of the energy produced by California Flats will be sold to PG&E.

Construction is expected to begin this summer.