California to Get another 250 MW of Solar Power

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Despite a slower market, California solar developers are still cashing in on state and federal incentives. In fact, the West Coast is slated to get another 250 megawatts of clean, renewable energy in San Luis Obispo County.

Under NRG Solar and SunPower Corporation, the California Valley Solar Ranch is slated for an area known as the Carrizo Plain, a former farming community withdrawn from agricultural use because of its lack of water.

The Carrizo Plain is also flat, making construction of a solar farm easier, and high enough (at about 2,100 feet) to avoid the fogs that plague coastal California. Using a total of 1,966 acres for the highly efficient SunPower solar panels, which will be mounted on trackers to optimize electricity production, project owners will put another 2,399 acres into critical habitat.

Project facilitators are looking for a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, whose Loan Guarantee Program Office has already given a conditional commitment (term sheet) to finance the project.

The project also has a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in place from Pacific Gas & Electric to buy the electricity production – a PPA approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Construction will begin in June of 2011, with part of the farm coming online at the end of that year and the balance in 2012 or 2013.

Under terms of the agreement, NRG will assume ownership and financing responsibilities, while SunPower designs, develops, builds, operates and maintains the facility.

NRG Solar, based in Carlsbad, California, is a developer of the world’s best solar technologies, from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. San Jose-based SunPower, a design/build manufacturer of solar cells, panels and inverters, has built more than 120 utility-scale solar projects worldwide.

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  • Shredder

    This article is premature. There are many regulatory hurdles the CVSR project must overcome before it can go forward. It is by no means clear that the project will pass these hurdles. Nevertheless, this articles flatly states that construction will begin in June of 2011. The reader is advised to visit the website for the County of San Luis Obispo and review the many negative comments that were posted in response to the draft EIR for the project. Even if the project is approved by the county, there is a distinct possibility of litigation opposing it, so it could be years before the project breaks ground, if at all. The article misleadingly refers to the project as a “farm,” which is simply wrong and a transparent effort as greenwashing. Solar farms are not considered agricultural operations in California. Solar generation is important and laudatory, but not if a project is cited in a way that adversely impacts other environmental values, as the CVSR appears to do. Don’t count your chickens yet on this one.