- Created on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 20:05
- Written by IVN
El Centro, California - The Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South has paid its first $1 million in Imperial County sales taxes from the purchase of solar panels and other local goods and services. Representatives of the solar project, owned by an affiliate of Omaha, Neb.-based Tenaska and under construction near El Centro, presented a symbolic check to county supervisors on Tuesday.
“Community leaders can see the significant economic benefits from creating a new energy economy in the Valley,” said Robert Ferrara, Tenaska director, development. “Not only is Tenaska Imperial South delivering on the promise of hundreds of local construction jobs and millions of dollars in salaries and payments to local contractors and suppliers, but it is also making significant local sales tax payments."
Ferrara said Tenaska was the first solar developer to make a commitment in its conditional use permit to declare Imperial County the point of sale for all of its solar panels and other goods and services associated with construction. Because Imperial County is designated as the place of purchase, the county is able to collect local sales tax on the transactions. Due to this designation, Tenaska Imperial South will bring millions of dollars in sales tax revenue to the county, which is already seeing other benefits.
“This is the start of a new industry in Imperial County, an industry that is not only bringing jobs and revenue but also spurring growth,” said Imperial County Supervisor Jack Terrazas, who represents the district where the plant is located.
Tenaska Imperial South was the first large-scale solar project to begin construction in Imperial County and is expected to be the first to go into operation and transmit electricity via the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line. The ceremonial millionth panel was placed at the site on Monday. When complete, 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 San Diego Gas & Electric (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.
As construction employment for the Tenaska Imperial South project has ramped up over the past few months, Tenaska and its contractor, First Solar, Inc., have worked to maximize hiring of qualified local workers. A job fair for construction of the project was held last June in Holtville, Calif., with a record of 1,153 local job seekers attending. Their applications formed the foundation of local hiring efforts. Of the approximately 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 many 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.
“The support of local leaders is key to the successful development of any project. Imperial County and Imperial Irrigation District leaders are working with us every day on development arrangements that provide opportunity in the Valley, maintain the area’s quality of life and ability to grow, and help ensure that local solar projects remain competitive in the energy markets and continue to be stable businesses and employers,” Ferrara said. “We appreciate the positive reception we’ve received in the Valley, which is why we will continue to evaluate opportunities to develop solar energy projects here.”
The Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West project is expected to begin construction in 2013, with commercial operation in 2015. The solar power generating system will produce up to 150 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 55,000 California homes.