US Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell along with about 150 federal, state and local officials, and energy industry leaders, gathered last week to commission the 550-megawatt (MW) Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, located in Desert Center, Riverside County, California.
Secretary Jewell said:
"Solar projects like Desert Sunlight are helping create American jobs, develop domestic renewable energy and cut carbon pollution. I applaud the project proponents for their vision and entrepreneurial spirit to build this solar project, and commend Governor Brown for implementing policies that take action on climate change and help move our nation toward a renewable energy future."
Project owners NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy; GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE; and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas all helped flip the switch for the official commissioning of Desert Sunlight.
Armando Pimentel, president and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy Resources, the managing owner of the plant, said:
"We wouldn't be here today without the hard work and cooperation of all our partners. We are proud that Desert Sunlight will help California meet its renewable energy goals and has helped bring much needed jobs and economic benefits to families and businesses throughout Riverside County."
The facility is capable of generating enough clean energy to power about 160,000 California homes.
The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is located on approximately 3,600 acres of land managed by the US Bureau of Land Management in Riverside County. The project is delivering significant environmental benefits, including displacing approximately 300,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equal to removing more than 60,000 cars from the road.
First Solar permitted, constructed and is now operating the plant, which uses over 8 million First Solar modules. The power generated is being provided to Pacific Gas & Electric Company and Southern California Edison both under long-term contracts.
Development on the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm began in 2008. Desert Sunlight received its right-of-way grant from the Bureau of Land Management in August 2011. Since breaking ground, the project employed an average of 440 construction workers who logged more than 3.6 million man-hours of work at the facility. In addition, more than 40 California businesses contributed to the project through services ranging from materials, equipment, utilities, labor, housing, and food and beverage.