EL CENTRO, California – U.S. independent energy provider Tenaska closed commercial financing today for Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, a 150-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar electric generating plant near El Centro, California.
“The Tenaska Imperial West project generated significant interest from banks all over the world,” said Dave Kirkwood, Tenaska vice president and treasurer. “The successful financing demonstrates the strength of the project.”
It will be the 17th power generation project Tenaska has developed, financed and constructed, and the company’s second utility-scale solar electric generating facility. The first, the 130-MW Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South, also near El Centro, began commercial operation Nov. 1, 2013. Tenaska also has more than 250 MW of solar power projects in pre-financing development in Imperial County.
“The Imperial Valley is a great place to develop solar projects,” said Bob Ramaekers, Tenaska vice president of development. “We are pleased by the ongoing collaboration and strong commitment by local leaders to build these types of projects.”
Tenaska Imperial West will be built on more than 1,100 acres of previously disturbed land along Interstate 8 about eight miles west of El Centro. When complete, it will provide clean, renewable energy to San Diego Gas & Electric Company, via the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, under a 25-year power purchase agreement. Construction is expected to start later this year, with commercial operation anticipated in 2016.
First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) is the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for Tenaska Imperial West. The facility will use First Solar’s advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules with single-axis tracking to follow the sun for greater power generation. First Solar was the EPC contractor for Tenaska Imperial South and now operates the facility under a contract with Tenaska.
Like Tenaska Imperial South, which resulted in millions of dollars in Imperial County tax payments and supply and service contracts with local companies, the construction of Tenaska Imperial West will bring significant benefits to the Imperial Valley.
First Solar will hire construction workers for Tenaska Imperial West. The project is expected to create up to 800 direct jobs at peak construction. Tenaska Imperial South created about 500 jobs at peak construction, 70 percent of which were filled by Imperial County residents.
With Tenaska’s first project, Tenaska and its EPC contractor plan to work with Imperial County Workforce Development, Employment Development Department and other agencies in the region to coordinate local hiring. When positions become available next year, information about applications and qualifications will be made available at those agencies.
“Tenaska Imperial West is moving forward on schedule, facilitated by the support of Imperial Valley public officials and local business and community leaders,” said Ramaekers. “The community was great to work with when we developed Tenaska Imperial South, and that has also been our experience with Tenaska Imperial West. We thank the Imperial Valley for its support, and we’re looking forward to making these economic benefits a reality.”
An affiliate of Tenaska is the majority owner of Tenaska Imperial West. An affiliate of Silver Ridge Power, LLC owns a minority interest in the project.