EL CENTRO, Calif. â€“ The Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South has been named Project of the Year by the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC) for its significant contributions to the region, including its hiring of local workers and its contracts with local vendors and contractors. The solar project, owned by an affiliate of Tenaska and under construction near El Centro, was selected from among five energy projects in the Valley for the honor, which was awarded at IVEDCâ€™s annual dinner on Jan. 25.
â€œTenaska has proven to be exactly the type of company that Imperial Valley was looking to attract,â€ said IVEDC President and CEO Timothy E. Kelley. â€œAs it promised, Tenaska has been encouraging the hiring of Imperial Valley workers and contractors for the Tenaska Imperial South project. The jobs and contracts add to the positive local economic benefit for the region that we envisioned when we first considered a new energy economy for the Imperial Valley.â€
Tenaska, an IVEDC investor, has worked with the organization to establish a procurement program to help renewable energy projects in the Valley identify and accept bids from qualified local contractors and vendors during construction and operation. Tenaska Imperial South and its construction contractor, First Solar, Inc., have awarded contracts totaling more than $20 million to local companies, including Duggins Construction Inc., United Rentals and Granite Construction.
Tenaska and First Solar have 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 of 1,153 local job seekers attending. Their applications formed the foundation of local hiring efforts. Of the approximately 500 construction workers hired to perform work at the site to date, 70 percent are from communities in Imperial County, including Brawley, El Centro, Heber, Imperial and Calexico.
â€œTenaska is honored that Tenaska Imperial South has been selected for the Project of the Year award,â€ said Robert Ferrara, Tenaska director of development. â€œTenaska takes great pride in its 25-year history of being a good neighbor in the communities where it does business. We are pleased to continue that tradition in Imperial Valley and are honored to be recognized for those efforts. Of course, the good relationship we enjoy with IVEDC has been crucial to fulfilling our commitment to hire local workers and service providers. We appreciate their support of solar development in the Valley.â€
Tenaska Imperial South was the first utility-scale solar project to begin construction in Imperial County and is expected to be the first to go into operation. 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. When operating at peak times, it will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 44,000 California homes. Commercial operation is expected in the second half of 2013.
Tenaska Solar Ventures (TSV), an 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.
The Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West project is expected to begin construction in 2013, with commercial operation in 2015. The project is expected to create 300 jobs at peak construction, in addition to adding millions of dollars in tax revenue throughout construction and the 25-year life of the project. The solar power generating system will produce up to 150 megawatts (MW) of electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric. When operating at peak times, it will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 55,000 California homes.