The plant will have a generation capacity of around 139MW and is located near El Centro in Imperial County, California. The project is expected to be completed sometime this year. A county study estimates its value to the economy as being over $230 million and predicts it will generate around 250 construction jobs.
Construction of the plant was finally approved on December 18th last year having received permission from the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) for easements required to carry transmission lines across IID’s Westside Main Canal. Earlier approvals were given by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a Right of Way grant and a Conditional Use Permit from Imperial County.
County of Imperial Board President Ray Castillo said the county is very pleased to see commencement of the construction on the project which will bring numerous benefits to the area and its citizens.
“First Solar's project brings much needed jobs and economic development to the Valley at a time when it is sorely needed” he added. “The project also pays added tax revenue, funds for agricultural benefits and community benefits while helping the County diversify its economy. We've been working to attract projects like this for the past five or six years and are glad to see it's finally happening. These projects are really our legacy for the Imperial Valley.”
James F. Cook, Project Development Director at First Solar, said that the company is grateful to IID, Imperial County and the BLM for their support, adding that he believed the project would create badly needed jobs and will help the county and the state to reach their respective renewable energy goals.
First Solar will deploy its advanced thin film PV modules at the plant which will generate enough renewable energy to power around 50,000 average homes while displacing 80,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. This is approximately equivalent to taking 15,000 cars off the road.