EL CENTRO – Tenaska today provided a project update to members of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors at the site of its solar project along Interstate 8, about eight miles west of El Centro.
The 150-megawatt (MW) Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, Tenaska’s second large-scale solar project in Imperial County, is a ground-mounted photovoltaic solar generating facility planned to be under full construction later this year west of the Westside Main Canal.
Supervisors John Renison, District 1, and Ray Castillo, District 5, toured the site Thursday for an employment and construction update and to see firsthand progress being made.
“The vision of creating a renewable energy economy literally becomes a reality as you walk around these projects,” Renison said. “We appreciated how Tenaska and its contractors managed the construction of its first project with a focus on local hiring and contracting, and we’re seeing that commitment again. And now, we have a greater pool of qualified workers locally, including some I met from Calexico.”
Construction on the electric transmission switchyard, substation and transmission lines began in June. Full-scale construction of the solar facility, including installation of the solar panels, is expected to start in 2014.
To date, Tenaska Imperial West has employed about 85 construction workers for the electric switchyard, substation and transmission lines. As the project proceeds into full construction, it is expected to employ more than 800 construction workers at the peak of construction activity.
“Undoubtedly, Imperial County residents and businesses are the real winners of bringing renewable energy to the Valley. I was impressed by the list of local businesses that have already been providing supplies and contractor services, even at this very early stage of construction,” Castillo said. “We’re looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Tenaska over the coming decades.”
Tenaska Imperial West is expected to be commercially operational in 2016. At peak times it would be able to produce enough clean, renewable power for more than 55,000 California homes under a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric.
Throughout construction, Tenaska Imperial West is anticipated to inject tens of millions of dollars into the local economy through employee wages, vendor contracts and local taxes. Similar to its Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South project, Tenaska made a commitment in Tenaska Imperial West’s conditional use permit to designate Imperial County as the place of purchase for its solar panels and other goods and services, ensuring the county would benefit from the sales tax resulting from the purchases.
Tenaska has encouraged its contractors, First Solar, Inc. and Dashiell Corporation, to hire local qualified construction workers and to purchase locally as many construction goods and services as possible. Employment and vendor inquiries should be directed to Kirk Miller, First Solar construction manager, at (505) 652-0017 or to the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation for information about becoming a qualified local vendor.
“Solar development in Imperial County remains an important initiative, both for Tenaska and for the local area. These types of capital intensive projects wouldn’t be possible without the vision of local leaders and their willingness to work with clean energy developers on mutually agreeable arrangements. We appreciate the interest in the project by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, and we will continue to keep all leaders informed as we move toward full construction,” said Robert Ferrara, Tenaska director of development.