EL CENTRO – Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South has become the Imperial Valley’s first large-scale solar energy facility to deliver power to San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) Sunrise Powerlink. More than 130 Imperial Valley business and government leaders, landowners, and local and state officials joined representatives from Tenaska, SDG&E and First Solar, the project’s primary construction contractor, for a “Power On” event today celebrating the delivery of clean, renewable solar power to the grid.
Tenaska Imperial South was the first utility-scale solar project to begin construction in the Imperial Valley and is one of the largest commercially financed solar projects in the U.S. to date. The ground-mounted photovoltaic solar project will produce up to 130 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 44,000 California homes. The power generated from the facility will serve SDG&E customers.
“Tenaska is committed to the Imperial Valley,” said Bob Ramaekers, vice president of development, Tenaska. “We have invested in the local economy and created hundreds of local construction jobs and millions in local tax revenue. Today we are delivering on our promise to send clean, renewable energy to Californians.”
In the last decade, renewable energy has become a dynamic force that is rapidly changing the energy industry. California’s ambitious renewable energy mandates are driving this transformation, requiring utilities to secure 33 percent of their power from renewable energy resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
SDG&E has delivered just over 20 percent of renewable energy in the past two years and expects to increase those deliveries in 2013, in large part because projects like Tenaska Imperial South are now coming on line.
According to SDG&E, the newly completed 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink serves as the main catalyst for renewable energy projects, such as Tenaska Imperial South, by fulfilling its goal as a renewable energy “superhighway” that will deliver green power generated in the Imperial Valley to the San Diego region.
“The Sunrise Powerlink is one of the largest and most significant projects in the history of San Diego Gas & Electric and we are thrilled that Tenaska is delivering its first energy from its Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South project to our infrastructure,” said Jim Avery, senior vice president of power supply, SDG&E. “SDG&E is a leader in the acquisition of renewable energy and our partnership with Tenaska is an important part of meeting the state’s clean energy goals.”
Tenaska Imperial South has created hundreds of jobs and is paying millions of dollars in local sales tax, which is helping to drive economic growth in the region. As of April 2013, the project had reported payments of $1.5 million out of an expected $3 million in Imperial County sales taxes. 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 perform 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. 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
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. Tenaska continues to evaluate more projects in the Imperial Valley and across the United States.