Photovoltaic Facility Proposed by LS Power Could Deliver up to 130 Megawatts of Clean Energy to San Diego Across Planned Sunrise Powerlink
May 14, 2010 (San Diego)—San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced yesterday that it has signed a 20-year power-purchase agreement with an LS Power subsidiary to procure up to 130 megawatts (MW) of solar energy from the proposed Centinela Solar Energy facility in the Imperial Valley.
SDG&E has long stated its intention to tap into clean energy resources, but declined to guarantee any fixed percentage of renwables via Powerlink to the California Public Utilities Commission. If the LS Power project is approved and constructed, it would fulfill SDG&E’s claim that at least a portion of the power imported via its planned Sunrise Powerlink Project would originate from renewable resources.
“Renewables are the lynchpin of SDG&E’s commitment to becoming the quintessential utility of the future,” said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., chief executive officer of SDG&E. “We are accessing large amounts of environmentally-friendly power and developing infrastructure and smart technology to bring it to our communities. ”
LS Power's website has no photo or description of the Centinela project, other than stating the project is "under development." According to SDG&E, upon completion in 2014, the new Centinela Solar Energy facility would send up to 130 MW of solar power to SDG&E’s service territory across the Sunrise Powerlink, a 120-mile, 500-kilovolt electric transmission line which was designed to tap into the vast renewable resources of the Imperial Valley. When completed in 2012, the new power line is expected to carry up to 1,000 MW of electricity. Without the Sunrise Powerlink, many renewable energy facilities in the Imperial Valley have no clear path to the San Diego market.
“This contract is the result of diligent efforts focused on cultivating local solar, wind and geothermal resources for San Diego,” said Michael R. Niggli, president and chief operating officer of SDG&E. “It will help us fill the Sunrise Powerlink with green power and meet the state’s aggressive renewable goals.”
“We are proud to secure this clean energy contract with SDG&E and move forward with this project,” said John King, executive vice president of LS Power. “The Imperial Valley is an excellent location to develop solar power and we look forward to working with SDG&E and Imperial County to make this project a reality. ”
The Centinela Solar Energy facility will employ photovoltaic technology on a 1,150-acre site near Calexico, Calif., an area that is ideal for producing solar power due to abundant desert sunlight. The facility will generate emissions-free energy without the use of water, an important consideration in the arid desert of the Pacific Southwest. In addition to producing clean electricity, the solar project represents a $500-million economic investment in Imperial County and will create hundreds of area construction jobs.
“This is great news for the Imperial Valley,” said Tim Kelley, chief executive officer of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation. “Renewable energy has the potential to become one of the pillars of the local economy, as long as we have the Sunrise Powerlink to bring it to market. This vital infrastructure project is a win-win for the Imperial Valley and San Diego and will help our region become a national leader in renewable energy development.”
The up to 130 MW contract is one of several agreements with Imperial Valley renewable energy developers, according to SDG&E.
Under the new contract, which runs through 2033, the photovoltaic facility will produce enough “green” power for approximately 45,000 households. The contract requires approval from the California Public Utilities Commission.
The project will help SDG&E meet California’s mandate to procure 20 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2010 and the company’s voluntary commitment of 33 percent by 2020.
Sunrise Powerlink has been approved by the CPUC, but still faces legal challenges in courts and requires approval by the federal government to run the high-voltage lines through the Cleveland National Forest. Powerlink faces strong opposition from many East County residents led by the East County Community Action Coalition, which contends that the line poses severe fire and health hazards and that our region’s power could be better met through local power generation.