A 54-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant that will generate enough energy to serve approximately 20,000 homes will begin construction this month following the announcement of a 20-year renewable power purchase agreement between Turlock Irrigation District and SunPower.
Under the agreement, TID will buy renewable solar power from SunPower, which will build the power plant at the company's Rosamond Solar site in Kern County. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of next year.
TID estimates that this agreement will move the district approximately seven percent closer to meeting the state's recently increased Renewable Portfolio Standard requirement of 50 percent renewables by 2030 following the passage of S.B. 350 in October.
The agreement will also add another significant resource to the district's already diverse portfolio of certified environmentally-friendly greenhouse-gas-free resources, which include wind, eligible small hydro, geothermal and photovoltaic solar.
"This power purchase agreement puts TID on a clear path to meet both current and future RPS obligations and clean climate goals, as well as continuing a long standing commitment to a diverse and reliable mix of generation resources to serve TID customers," said TID General Manager Casey Hashimoto.
"While asset ownership has been the approach for nearly all of TID's other power generation facilities, this long-term power purchase agreement is competitively priced with conventional energy sources and will also allow the district to benefit indirectly from federal tax incentives set to be reduced at the end of 2016," continued Hashimoto.
The 54-megawatt plant for TID at the Rosamond Solar site in Kern County will be constructed alongside another 54-megawatt plant that will be built for Stanford University. In total, the Rosamond Solar site may support up to 300 megawatts of solar generation, creating approximately 350 jobs during peak construction at the site next year.
SunPower will design and build SunPower Oasis Power Plant systems, which are SunPower's fully integrated, modular solar power block solutions for utility-scale solar projects. The system is designed to optimize land use and engineered for rapid installation.
"Today, power generated from solar plants is cost-competitive with power from traditional, fossil fuel burning plants," said Tom Werner, president and CEO of SunPower. "SunPower applies its experience building and operating solar power plants around the world to deliver exceptional performance and value for our customers."
"We are pleased to partner with Turlock Irrigation District to enable more homes and businesses to take advantage of the region's abundant and sustainable solar resource," continued Werner.
The TID Board of Directors voted 4-1 to authorize staff in March to negotiate, execute, and administer a 20-year power purchase agreement for up to 200,000 MWh per year of renewable power. Director Rob Santos cast the lone dissenting vote after stating that he felt that there were too many critical uncertainties to move forward at that time.