Imperial Irrigation Lands 30MW of Solar

By Published On: November 30, 2014

One solar expansion project came online. Another large photovoltaic proposal landed a 25-year deal. A third, and the largest, bit the dust. Solar developer 8minuteenergy Renewables announced Nov. 24 it reached a deal to sell 30 MW of solar power to the Imperial Irrigation District. This Midway III solar project entails photovoltaic tracking panels, which are to be sited on 221 acres of “low productivity” farmland and developed with Gestamp Solar. The “solar project will create approximately 240 direct and 180 indirect jobs during construction in Imperial County, and make other contributions to the local economy,” said Martin Hermann, chief executive officer of 8minutenergy Renewables. There are power purchase agreements for three other Midway solar projects as well. A few days earlier, a proposed 200 MW photovoltaic solar project to be sited near Baker in San Bernardino County was deep-sixed by the Bureau of Land Management. The agency determined Nov. 20 that the 1,600-acre facility seeking public land was not “in the public interest.” The impacts of the Silurian project could not be mitigated, according to the land management agency. The project site is largely an “undisturbed valley that supports wildlife, an important piece of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, and recreational and scenic values, had too great of an impact on the resources,” concluded the Bureau. The 200 MW Iberdrola Renewables project sought a variance because it was outside the agency’s designated solar zones. Identified solar zones give priority to solar projects, but ones outside those areas must seek a variance to win approval for development. It was the first solar project in California to seek a variance, said BLM spokesperson Dana Wilson. Variances have been granted to two solar projects in areas outside zones in other states—one in Arizona and another in Nevada. Iberdrola has 30 days to appeal. A 19 MW expansion of a 22 MW White River solar project in Tulare County came online in October. The 22 MW Phase I started service in July 2013, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The combined 41 MW output is sold to Pacific Gas & Electric. under long-term agreements.

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