Local Transportation Authority Benefits from Tenaska Solar Project

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Tenaska

From left: Imperial County Supervisor and ICLTA Board Member Ryan Kelley, Brawley City Councilman and ICLTA Board Member George Nava, Imperial City Councilman and ICLTA Board Member Mark Gran, Calipatria Mayor Pro-tem and ICLTA Board Member Maria Nava-Froelich, El Centro City Councilman and ICLTA Board Member Efrain Silva, Imperial County Supervisor and ICLTA Chair Jack Terrazas, Tenaska Community Representative Tom Topuzes, Westmorland Mayor Pro-tem and ICLTA Board Member Larry Ritchie, Holtville Mayor and ICLTA Board Member Mike Goodsell.

 

EL CENTRO, Calif. – The Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South has paid another $500,000 in Imperial County sales tax, this time to the Imperial County Local Transportation Authority (ICLTA). ICLTA, a coalition of representatives of Imperial County and its cities, is a significant funding source for transportation improvements in Imperial County.

Representatives of the solar project, owned by an affiliate of Omaha, Neb.-based Tenaska and under construction near El Centro, Calif., presented a symbolic check to ICLTA commissioners at their regular meeting on Wednesday.

“The Local Transportation Authority will use the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South sales tax proceeds for transportation improvements throughout the county, benefiting the transportation needs of each incorporated city in Imperial County and the county as a whole,” said Mark Baza, ICLTA executive director. “We appreciate having the Tenaska Imperial South project in Imperial County and all the benefits it’s bringing to the county.”

This is the second sales tax check presentation Tenaska has made in the local area, for a total of $1.5 million in local sales tax proceeds to date. On March 12, Tenaska Imperial South presented its first $1 million in local sales tax to the county Board of Supervisors.

“The benefits of the Tenaska Imperial South project for Imperial County continue to grow – from the creation of hundreds of local construction jobs to what now tops $1.5 million in local sales tax payments,” said Robert Ferrara, Tenaska director, development. “This project is helping support the growth of the new economy countywide. Good transportation systems support commerce, moving goods to market and allowing workers to commute to and from jobs.”

Tenaska was the first solar developer to make a commitment in its conditional use permit to declare Imperial County the point of sale for all of its solar panels and other goods and services associated with construction. Because Imperial County is designated as the place of purchase, the county and the ICLTA are able to collect local sales tax on the transactions. As a result, Tenaska Imperial South is expected to bring millions of dollars in net sales tax revenue to the county, in addition to the other economic development benefits of the project.

Since 1989, when Imperial County voters approved the formation and funding of the ICLTA, the agency has contributed $160 million to transportation projects in the Imperial Valley, including pedestrian and bicycle safety projects, roadway pavement rehabilitations, intersection/traffic signal improvements, safe routes to schools, and contributions to regional highway and bus/transit projects.

Tenaska Imperial South is expected to be the first large-scale solar project to go into operation and transmit electricity via the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line. When complete, the ground-mounted photovoltaic solar power generating system will produce up to 130 megawatts (MW) of electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). When operating at peak times, it will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 44,000 California homes. Full commercial operation is expected in the second half of 2013.

As construction employment for the Tenaska Imperial South project ramped up last fall, Tenaska and its contractor, First Solar Inc., worked to maximize hiring of qualified local workers. A job fair for construction of the project was held last June in Holtville, Calif., with a record at the time of 1,153 local job seekers attending. Their applications formed the foundation of local hiring efforts. Of approximately 500 workers hired for construction at the site, 70 percent are from communities in Imperial County.

Tenaska Imperial South was the recipient of the 2013 Project of the Year Award from Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC) for its contributions to the region. In addition to the significant economic benefits of the project, Tenaska has worked with IVEDC to establish a program to identify and hire qualified local vendors for solar projects in the

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Imperial Valley. Tenaska Imperial South has awarded contracts to a number of local companies, including Duggins Construction Inc. and Granite Construction.

Tenaska Solar Ventures (TSV), another affiliate of Tenaska, developed the project. In addition to Tenaska Imperial South, TSV has completed permitting for the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West near El Centro and continues to evaluate additional opportunities in the Imperial Valley.

Construction of the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West is expected to begin in 2013, with commercial operation in 2015. The solar power generating system would produce up to 150 MW of electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement with SDG&E. When operating at peak times, it would produce enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 55,000 California homes.

“We appreciate the continued support from local leaders for not only the Tenaska Imperial South project, but also for our other projects in the Valley,” Ferrara said. “We are pleased that we have worked together to create such a positive local impact.”