Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South Begins Commercial Operation


Tenaska Imperial South

EL CENTRO – Imperial County’s First Large-scale Solar Field to Begin Construction and start creating new Jobs. Solar Energy Center South is now supplying power for up to 44,000 Homes.

The 130-megawatt Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South, a new solar photovoltaic electric generating station southwest of El Centro, began commercial operation Nov. 1 under its 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).

Tenaska Imperial South was the first utility-scale solar project to begin construction in California’s Imperial Valley.

It was also the first large-scale solar project in the Valley to connect to SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink, the new 117-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission line built to facilitate the development, generation and transmission of renewable energy in the Valley.

“Today, we recognize a major milestone, not only for Tenaska, but for SDG&E and the Imperial Valley,” said Jerry Crouse, vice chairman and CEO of Omaha, Neb.-based Tenaska. “Together, we have made this large-scale solar energy project a reality in Imperial County.

We are keenly aware that this milestone would not have been possible without the welcoming support we have received from the people of the Imperial Valley, and we look forward to the opportunity to continue that trend with more projects that bring more jobs and more revenue.”

Beginning construction in December 2011, Tenaska Imperial South created hundreds of jobs and paid more than $3 million in local sales tax.

Tenaska and its contractor, a subsidiary of First Solar, Inc., worked to maximize hiring of qualified local workers. Of the more than 500 construction workers hired to perform work at the site, approximately 70 percent were from communities in Imperial County, including Brawley, El Centro, Heber, Imperial and Calexico.

Tenaska was also the first Imperial County solar developer to commit in its conditional use permit to declaring Imperial County the point of sale for approximately 2 million solar panels and other construction-related goods and services, resulting in the millions in sales tax payments.

First Solar Electric (California), LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar, Inc., is also operating the facility under a contract with Tenaska.

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 at least $20 million in contracts to a number of local companies, including Duggins Construction Inc. and Granite Construction.

The solar electric generating plant is able to generate enough electricity to power approximately 44,000 homes in SDG&E’s service territory.

“The Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South is exactly the type of project the Sunrise Powerlink was designed to accommodate,” said Jim Avery, senior vice president of power supply at SDG&E.

“The energy produced at this solar plant, combined with the renewable solar and wind energy produced at other SDG&E-contracted facilities in Imperial Valley, is providing our customers with more clean power as well as helping the state achieve higher renewable goals.”

In addition to Tenaska Imperial South, SDG&E has contracted with Tenaska for the energy produced at a second Imperial Valley solar project, Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, also near El Centro. It will produce up to 150 MW of electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

When operating at peak times, enough electricity will be produced to meet the needs of approximately 55,000 California homes. Power from Tenaska Imperial West will be delivered to SDG&E via the Sunrise Powerlink. Construction of Tenaska Imperial West is expected to begin in early 2014, with initial commercial operation scheduled for 2015.

Both Tenaska Imperial South and Tenaska Imperial West were developed by Tenaska Solar Ventures (TSV), an affiliate of Tenaska focused on developing solar energy projects in North America. TSV continues to develop two additional projects in the Valley.

California law requires utilities to secure 33 percent of their power from renewable energy resources and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The state’s renewable portfolio standards law, combined with the added access to transmission infrastructure, created a strong market for large-scale solar projects like Tenaska Imperial South. Currently, approximately 23 percent of the energy SDG&E provides customers comes from renewable sources, up from one percent in 2002.

Since 1987, when Tenaska was founded, the company and its affiliates have developed and constructed more than 9,000 MW of natural gas and renewable electric generating facilities. The company manages the operations of approximately 11,000 MW of electricity produced by 15 power plants across the nation