About 1 million solar panels will soon dot some 1,600 acres near Mount Signal.
Scheduled to reach commercial operation in the fall of 2014, the $700 million Centinela Solar Energy project is expected to generate 170 megawatts and supply San Diego Gas & Electric with enough electricity to power 1 million average households for one year.
Officials at Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony touted the project’s economic and environmental benefits.
“Unlike natural gas or coal, the (solar) fuels are free,” said Michael Picker, senior adviser to the governor for renewable energy. “They don’t have the same cost volatility of natural gas.”
Officials said more than 400 jobs in the Imperial Valley are expected to be created over the project’s 22-month construction period.
The project bypasses the Imperial Irrigation District’s grid. It was built on private land and utilizes its own transmission lines. It does, however, cross the district’s Westside Main Canal and connects to the Imperial Valley Substation. The IID was able to bundle the point at which the project crosses the canal with other solar projects, minimizing environmental impacts. And, because it connects to IID infrastructure, Centinela will mitigate potential impacts it has on the district’s grid.
“Centinela will pay for its share of upgrades required on the IID transmission system, keeping IID ratepayers from carrying any costs of the project,” said IID Director John Pierre Menvielle.
Staff Writer Antoine Abou-Diwan can be reached at 760-337-3454 or email@example.com
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