MidAmerican Solar and SunPowerhave announced that the first portion of one of the largest solar powerplants in the United States is now feeding into the California independent service operator (ISO) grid. The photovoltaic Solar Star project, a co-located facility in Kern and Los Angeles Counties, is currently supplying 57MW to the grid, and will ultimately provide enough electricity to power 255,000 homes when all 579MW goes online in 2015.
Construction began on the Solar Star projects in early 2013, and upon their completion the 579MW facilities will include more than 1.7 million panels installed across 3,230 acres. SunPower is responsible for the design and construction of the plants, which are owned by MidAmerican Solar. When the massive project is completed next year, Southern California Edison will purchase electricity from the Solar Star projects under two long-term purchase agreements.
The new plants are expected to have a significant impact in California’s move towards greater adoption of renewable energy. In a statement, MidAmerican Solar explained “We are fulfilling our promise … to help California meet its mandate to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.” The 579MW that will be generated by the Solar Star projects alone will displace approximately 570,000 metric tons of CO2 per year – the equivalent of taking nearly 108,000 cars off the road annually, according to MidAmerican Solar.
In addition to the Solar Star projects, MidAmerican Solar has also taken on construction of the Topaz Solar Farms in San Luis Obispo, CA, a 550MW grid-connected facility that will provide enough electricity to power 180,000 homes. The Topaz Solar Farms are also scheduled for completion next year.