EL CENTRO, Calif. — Even as the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South sends renewable power from the Imperial Valley via the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line to residents and businesses in San Diego, the local benefits from construction of the project continue to grow. Representatives of the solar project, owned by an affiliate of Omaha, Neb.-based Tenaska, presented a second symbolic check for $1 million to Imperial County supervisors at their regular meeting Tuesday.
The presentation was the third Tenaska has made in the county this year, for a total of $2.5 million in local sales tax to date. On March 12, Tenaska Imperial South presented its first $1 million in local sales tax to the county Board of Supervisors. On April 24, Tenaska Imperial South presented $500,000 to the Imperial County Local Transportation Authority (ICLTA), a coalition of representatives of Imperial County and its cities and a significant funding source for transportation improvements in the county.
The new revenue stream for the county and ICLTA is a result of Tenaska’s designation of Imperial County as the point of sale for goods and services, including approximately 2 million solar panels, used to construct Tenaska Imperial South, resulting in millions of dollars in new sales tax revenue.
“Tenaska Imperial South continues to bring many economic benefits to the Imperial Valley,” said Imperial County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova. “Today, we are celebrating $2.5 million in sales taxes paid by the project. That’s significant, and we have more to celebrate. Our residents are benefitting from the hundreds of construction jobs created by the project, and our educators are thrilled with the growth in career opportunities for our young people. Our local businesses have benefited from the more than $20 million in local contracts and supplies for the project. Our fire services are benefiting from payments on a new fire truck and fees to service these projects.”
Tenaska Imperial South has been responsible for a series of firsts in Imperial County:
- Tenaska was the first solar developer to make a commitment in its conditional use permit to declare Imperial County as the place of purchase for construction goods and services, allowing the county to collect sales tax.
- Tenaska Imperial South was the first large-scale solar project to begin construction in the county.
- Tenaska Imperial South was the Imperial Valley’s first large-scale solar energy facility to deliver clean, renewable solar power to SDG&E’s newly completed, 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line. It is also helping SDG&E meet California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard that requires 33 percent of California’s power be obtained from renewable energy resources by 2020.
In addition to the millions of dollars in local sales tax, Tenaska and its contractor, First Solar, Inc., have worked to maximize hiring of qualified local workers. Of the more than 500 construction workers hired to work at the site to date, 70 percent are from communities in Imperial County, including Brawley, El Centro, Heber, Imperial and Calexico.
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, including working with IVEDC to establish a program to identify and hire qualified local vendors for solar projects in the Imperial Valley. Tenaska Imperial South has awarded contracts to a number of local companies, including Duggins Construction Inc. and Granite Construction.
“It took collaboration from developers, local, state and federal leaders and their staff people to start realizing these benefits from the Tenaska project, and Imperial County is just getting started,” said Robert Ferrara, Tenaska director of development. “We are proud to be delivering on the commitments we made to the county leaders when they approved this project.”
The ground-mounted photovoltaic solar power generating system at Tenaska Imperial South will produce up to 130 megawatts (MW) of electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Full commercial operation is expected in the second half of 2013. When operating at peak times, it will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 44,000 California homes.
Tenaska Solar Ventures, LLC (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 and across the U.S.
Construction of the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West is expected to begin in 2013, with commercial operation in 2016. 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.