Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 28
First Solar inks deal with PG&E on Cuyama project
BY JEREMY THOMAS
First Solar, one of the largest makers of photovoltaic solar panels, announced a deal with PG&E on Sept. 11 to sell the electricity it would generate from two proposed solar power plants, including a large array near Cuyama.
Once completed, the two solar farms will have a combined capacity of 72 megawatts: 40 megawatts would come from the Cuyama plant, and 32 megawatts would be generated by the Lost Hills project in Kern County.
“If you don’t have a customer, it’s really questionable whether you can develop a project,” said First Solar spokesman Alan Bernheimer. “Getting the power purchase agreement with PG&E is a big step forward for the project.”
The 327-acre Cuyama project is expected to create as many as 200 jobs at the peak of construction, and produce enough electricity to power 13,000 average California homes, Bernheimer said. Additionally, the energy generated by the solar farm would displace about 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent of taking 4,900 cars off the road every year.
Planned for development southwest of the junction of highways 166 and 33, the project has been in the works since 2009 and is still in the permitting stages. It would incorporate about 60,000 of First Solar’s thin-film photovoltaic panels. According to the company, construction could start in 2013, depending on the progress of the development process. The project would take a year to 18 months to complete.
The power purchase agreements—each beginning in 2019—are subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, which is likely to decide on the project in early 2013.