MidAmerican Solar and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) announced that the first portion of the 579-megawatt Solar Star development – two projects co-located in Kern and Los Angeles counties in California – was successfully synchronized and is now delivering renewable energy to the California ISO grid.
"This announcement is significant for the state of California," said Mike Fehr, MidAmerican Solar's general manager at the Solar Star projects. "It demonstrates that we are fulfilling our promise to the local community and regulators and delivering expected results, based on our construction timeline, to help California meet its mandate to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. We want to thank the many stakeholders that made this milestone possible, including California ISO, Southern California Edison, county officials, local community members and contractors. We remain committed to safely constructing one of the largest solar developments in the world in the Antelope Valley area."
The Solar Star projects are owned by MidAmerican Solar. SunPower designed and is constructing the projects, and will provide operations and maintenance services. Construction on the projects began in early 2013 and is expected to be complete by year-end 2015.
"We are pleased to connect and synchronize Solar Star's first SunPower Oasis Power Blocks, totaling 57 megawatts, to the grid," said Jorg Heinemann, SunPower executive vice president, customer operations and engineering, procurement and construction. "The project partners are working well together and with the community to deliver one of the world's largest solar power plants on schedule."
The projects currently employ approximately 600 workers at the site.
"The Solar Star projects are creating needed jobs and providing economic opportunities in the Rosamond, Lancaster and Palmdale communities and surrounding areas," said Paulette Rush, MidAmerican Solar's community relations specialist for the Solar Star projects. "We're committed to working hand-in-hand with the development's neighbors and supporters and look forward to celebrating our milestones with the local community. This most recent announcement is quite an accomplishment considering construction began just one year ago."
The development is expected to generate more than $500 million in regional economic benefits, the majority of which will be generated during construction. Southern California Edison will purchase electricity from the projects under two long-term power purchase contracts.
"Utility-scale solar power is a competitively priced renewable resource, and a key part of Southern California Edison's energy mix," said Stuart Hemphill, senior vice president of Power Supply for Southern California Edison. "These Solar Star projects will help us continue to grow our renewable portfolio on behalf of our customers."
When complete, the 579-megawatt Solar Star projects are expected to have more than 1.7 million panels installed, covering 3,230 acres. MidAmerican Solar estimates that the projects will provide electricity equivalent to powering nearly 255,000 average California households. According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, electricity generated from the projects will displace approximately 570,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year – the equivalent of taking more than 100,000 cars off the road.