- Created on Monday, 11 March 2013 15:02
- Written by Imperial Valley News
El Centro, California - Top Imperial County and Imperial Irrigation District (IID) officials helped mark a major milestone – the installation of the millionth solar panel – Monday at the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South project near El Centro. The project, owned by an affiliate of Omaha, Neb.-based Tenaska, was the first large-scale solar power generating facility to begin construction in the county.
Out of approximately 500 workers hired for construction at the site so far, 70 percent are from communities in Imperial County.
Imperial County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ray Castillo and IID Director Bruce Kuhn installed the ceremonial millionth panel. Members of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors and IID Board of Directors also joined representatives of Tenaska and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the project’s customer, at the event.
“Tenaska is doing what it said would do, which is building a large-scale solar energy center in Imperial County,” said Castillo. “The fact that half the solar panels are installed is proof that this project is well on its way to providing clean power, jobs and tax revenues for the county.”
Tenaska Imperial South is expected to be the first large-scale solar project to connect and provide energy to the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line. 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 SDG&E. 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, although the project will be energized in phases beginning this spring.
“Tenaska is helping the Imperial Valley build a new economy,” said IID Interim Energy Manager Carl Stills. “In addition to the many jobs, the opportunities for local contractors and vendors, and the new tax revenue for the county, the economic activity from Tenaska Imperial South is further stimulating the overall economic vitality of the Valley.”
“IID and Imperial County leaders have been committed to pioneering a new renewable energy industry in the Imperial Valley. Their support has been important to the development of the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South project and bringing much needed jobs and economic spending to the Valley,” said Robert Ferrara, Tenaska director, development. “Their work is also one of the reasons we continue to evaluate projects in Imperial County. We appreciate their service.”
As construction employment for the project ramped up, Tenaska and its contractor, First Solar, Inc., worked to maximize hiring of qualified local workers. A job fair for construction of the project was held in coordination with the Imperial County Workforce Development Board and California Employment Development Department last June in Holtville, Calif., with a record 1,153 local job seekers attending. Their applications formed the foundation of local hiring efforts.
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 many local companies, including Duggins Construction Inc. and Granite Construction.
Tenaska Solar Ventures (TSV), another affiliate of Tenaska, is a nationally recognized solar project developer. In addition to Tenaska Imperial South, TSV has completed permitting for the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West near El Centro, a 150-MW solar facility expected to create 300 jobs at peak construction. Commercial financing and construction for Tenaska Imperial West is expected in 2013, with commercial operation in 2015. TSV continues to evaluate additional opportunities in Imperial County.