CPUC Commissioner Bohn Dedicates
California's First Grid-Connected Solar Farm
June 18, 2010
- Business Wire
Dedication ceremonies were held today
for CalRENEW-1, the first utility-scale photovoltaic
solar electricity plant to connect to the California
Independent System Operator's (CAISO) transmission
grid under the state's Renewables Portfolio Standards
program. California Public Utilities Commissioner
John Bohn joined with PG&E Senior Vice President Fong
Wan and the developer, Meridian Energy USA (formerly
Cleantech America) in lauding the facility as a significant
step toward meeting the state's highest-in the-nation
renewable energy goals.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
was unable to attend, but he sent his congratulations.
"California has led the way in enacting
ambitious policies and programs to combat climate
change, reduce our dependency on oil and grow our
green economy," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "The
addition of the CalRENEW-1 Solar Farm in Mendota is
further evidence that reliable, renewable and pollution-free
technology is here to stay. Projects like this one
are helping us meet both our renewable energy goals
and our economic needs by powering more homes and
businesses with sunshine and creating more jobs."
While many large solar projects have
been announced by California's utilities, and two
slightly larger PV solar farms (one in California
and one in Nevada) are delivering electricity to PG&E,
CalRENEW-1 is the first to achieve CAISO approval
to deliver zero-emission solar power directly to the
transmission level grid. This is significant because
it enables electricity from solar facilities like
CalRENEW-1 to be scheduled directly into the grid
so that it can be moved over utility lines to meet
electricity demands elsewhere.
"I'm delighted that CalRENEW-1 has
achieved commercial operation. The grid-connected
facility will help California meet our Renewables
Portfolio Standards goals and reduce the amount of
carbon we put into the atmosphere from energy generation,"
said California Public Utilities Commissioner John
"PG&E is committed to meeting our customers'
energy needs with sources of environmentally friendly
power," said Fong Wan, Senior Vice President of Energy
Procurement for PG&E. "Commercial operation of this
project serves to broaden our renewable portfolio
and aid our state in reaching its clean energy goals."
CalRENEW-1 will deliver 5 megawatts
of emissions-free solar electricity to PG&E under
a long-term power purchase agreement. It generates
electricity from more than 50,000 solar modules, which
occupy 50 acres of formerly fallow farmland in California's
Central Valley. The facility started commercial operations
on April 30
. "It is noteworthy that CalRENEW-1
was developed and financed entirely by Meridian Energy
USA. It further demonstrates Meridian's commitment
to renewables and to the US solar market," said Meridian
Energy USA CEO Bill Overholt. "And we are proud of
the fact that we were able to recruit and train Mendota
and other area residents to be installers, so that
more than 70 percent of the labor involved in construction
went to local residents. This demonstrates the potential
for PV solar to create green jobs and stimulate economic
As part of the festivities, Commissioner
Bohn presented commemorative plaques to four local
residents who had worked on the facility's construction.
From its inception CalRENEW-1 was a
collaborative effort between Meridian Energy USA,
PG&E, the CAISO and the city of Mendota, which is
providing the site for the facility under a long-term
lease. Being first on the grid meant that there were
many challenges to be solved but the Meridian project
team brought the facility in on time, within budget
and with an impeccable safety record.
Engineering and installation of the
facility was provided by Quanta Renewable Energy Services.
Sharp Electronics Corporation's Solar Energy Solutions
Group supplied the thin film photovoltaic modules,
the first major deployment of Sharp's amorphous thin
film product in the U.S.
CalRENEW-1 is among the most advanced
photovoltaic solar facilities in the world. Avoided
emissions from the facility will be an estimated 6.3
million lbs/year of CO2, the primary source of global
warming and climate change, plus 6,905 lbs/year of
NOx and 5,451 lbs/year of SO2 (source: EPA eGRID2002
The facility is owned and operated
by Meridian Energy USA, a subsidiary of Meridian Energy
Ltd., which plans to apply the lessons learned developing
and constructing the facility to much larger renewable
projects in the U.S. and internationally.