Tenaska said Nov.5 that it has started commercial operation of its 130-MW Tenaska Imperial Solar Center South, a new photovoltaic project near El Centro, Calif.
El Centro began operation Nov. 1 under its 25-year power purchase agreement with Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).
As one of the largest commercially financed solar projects in the United States, Tenaska Imperial South was the first utility-scale solar project to begin construction in California’s Imperial Valley. It was also the first large-scale solar project in the Valley to connect to SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink, the new 117-mile, 500-kV transmission line, Tenaska said.
Tenaska Imperial South is able to generate enough electricity to power 44,000 California homes. It consists of nearly two million solar panels and was built on a 946-acre site in the southern part of Imperial County. Construction began in December 2011.
Tenaska used a subsidiary of First Solar for project construction. Of the more than 500 construction workers hired to perform work at the site, approximately 70% were from communities in Imperial County.
In addition to Tenaska Imperial South, SDG&E has contracted with Tenaska for the energy produced at a second Imperial Valley solar project, Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, also near El Centro. It will produce up to 150 MW of electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement, with initial commercial operation scheduled for 2015.
Construction of Tenaska Imperial West is expected to begin in early 2014.
Both Tenaska Imperial South and Tenaska Imperial West were developed by Tenaska Solar Ventures (TSV), an affiliate of Tenaska.
An affiliate of Omaha-based Tenaska is the majority owner of Tenaska Imperial South. Prudential Capital Group is acquiring a minority interest, subject to regulatory approvals. Tenaska affiliates will manage the project.
California’s aggressive renewable standard calls for 33% of the state’s energy to come from renewable resources by 2020.