El Centro, California - The 150-megawatt (MW) Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, a new solar plant near Seeley capable of powering 55,000 homes, is now fully operational. Southern California residents and businesses will be able to take advantage of this renewable resource via the project’s 25-year agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E).
Tenaska Imperial West, located 14 miles west of El Centro on Interstate 8, consists of 1.8 million photovoltaic panels. Construction began in November 2014. The project employed more than 800 construction workers at peak, approximately 75 percent of whom were from Imperial County. Construction spending totaled more than $20 million in local contracts and resulted in $2.8 million in local sales taxes.
“We’re pleased to deliver another strong project to the California grid. A lot of credit goes to SDG&E for building the Sunrise Powerlink as a renewable energy pipeline that has helped to facilitate renewable energy growth in the region,” said Jerry Crouse, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Omaha, Nebraska-based Tenaska.
Tenaska Imperial West is Tenaska’s second project in the Valley. In 2011, Tenaska was the first energy developer to begin construction of a utility-scale solar project in Valley and the first to connect to the Sunrise Powerlink with Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South. It began commercial operation in 2013. First Solar, Inc., managed construction and operates both plants under contract with Tenaska.
“Our projects would not have been possible without strong collaboration with state and local leaders, and we look forward to building on that foundation into the long term,” Crouse said.
Over the past five years, the two plants hired more than 1,300 construction workers, more than 70 percent of whom were from Imperial County communities, and paid approximately $6 million in local sales taxes. Contracts with local vendors and suppliers totaled more than $40 million. Together, the plants can supply enough energy for approximately 100,000 California homes.
“Powering homes and businesses with universal solar is good for our customers and our state,” said Emily Shults, SDG&E vice president of energy procurement. “Sunrise Powerlink is the foundation for giving all of our customers’ access to renewable energy. We look forward to all of the innovations on the horizon that will unlock clean, safe and affordable energy choices for our customers.”
California law requires utilities to secure 50 percent of their power from renewable energy resources by 2030. The state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard law, combined with the added access to transmission infrastructure, created a strong market for utility-scale solar projects in the Valley.
Since Tenaska Imperial South began commercial operation, Tenaska affiliates have awarded $24,000 to Imperial County students pursuing post-secondary education, in addition to supporting community organizations, such as Imperial Valley Community Foundation, Imperial County Food Bank and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Imperial Valley.