FRESNO, Calif. - Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) and San Francisco-based Cleantech America LLC announced that they have entered into a multi-year agreement for Cleantech America to build a solar facility providing up to 80 MW of utility-scale solar power to the recently formed San Joaquin Valley Power Authority (SJVPA).

Under the plan, KRCD and Cleantech would develop solar energy for the Authority's Community Choice customers throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Upon full build-out, KRCD's Community Choice Solar Farm would be not only the nation's largest utility-scale photovoltaic facility but also the world’s largest solar facility.

The memorandum of understanding calls for the facility to be developed in phases of 10 MW in 2009, 30 MW in 2010, and 40 MW in 2011, for a total of 80 MW. Currently the largest announced facility in the U.S. is a 15 MW solar plant at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

"The promise of Community Choice is to have local control of our energy destiny. This means providing a choice of energy providers, stable and predictable rates, and valued added to the region through the development of new, local renewable energy sources like utility-scale photovoltaic solar which is generated within our service area, close to our energy load. Developing 80 MW of clean energy from the sun would take us a long way to achieving these goals while demonstrating the value of Community Choice," said David Orth, general manager of KRCD.

Bill Barnes, CEO of Cleantech America LLC, said, "This is a visionary step by Kings River Conservation District. The extraordinary economies of scale which can be achieved by facilities of this magnitude would have a dramatic effect on helping solar energy achieve grid parity. Solar on this scale would unquestionably attract many solar manufacturing, fabrication, and related jobs to the San Joaquin Valley, and further promote the region's growing image as California's 'Solar Valley.' And because in-grid zero emission solar provides peak power when it is needed most, during the hottest times of day during the hottest times of the year, it supports increased generation reliability in the region."

At full build-out, the 80 MW solar farm will avoid over 100 million pounds of CO2, over 87,000 pounds of SO2, over 110,000 pounds of ozone-forming NOx, and over 450 pounds of toxic mercury emissions annually based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data for California's power grid.

Publication date:07/16/2007