German Firm Plans 1,600-Acre Local Solar Project

The Central Valley’s Westside continues to get new large solar farm applications that include two new projects totaling near 400 megawatts (MW) in Fresno County – both in the Westlands Water District.

On land leased from the Woolf family, the county is processing an application to build a 1,600-acre solar project near the Kings/Fresno county line. A scoping session is planned for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Keenan Community Center in Huron.

German-based EC&R Solar Development, LLC has submitted three conditional use permit applications to allow the construction and operation of a 150 MW solar PV generation facility, a 20 MW solar PV generation facility and a 20 MW energy storage facility. The parent company is one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the world.

The project site, called Fifth Standard Solar Project Complex, is located on 12 parcels totaling 1,593 acres, west of South Lassen Avenue and north of West Jayne Avenue – about 3 miles south of Huron.

Like many recent applications, this project will have a storage component. Storage systems can assist grid operators in more effectively integrating intermittent renewable resources into the statewide grid and assist utilities to meet energy storage goals mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission, says the application. A 20 MW energy storage facility, on five acres, with a four-hour discharge duration would be constructed.

The applicant – E.ON Climate & Renewables (EC&R), headquartered in Essen, Germany – currently operates over 9 GW of renewable capacity including large hydro. Since its formation in 2007, EC&R has invested more than 9 billion Euros, including more than $5 billion in the U.S. solar and wind facilities. It owns a 20MW project in Southern California.

The second utility-scale project is the Little Bear Solar Project involving a 180 MW PV electricity generating facilities. The solar facility would consist of up to five individual facilities including an Energy Storage System. The project would connect to PG&E’s Mendota substation.

Last year, the developer of Little Bear – First Solar announced it had pre-sold 40 MW to a large community solar provider, MCE, based in the Bay Area. A not-for-profit, community-based electricity provider, MCE offers its customer base an opportunity to source 50 to 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources like solar, wind and hydroelectricity at competitive rates throughout California. MCE also allows its customers to choose which kind of green energy they want, whether it be wind, solar or a combination without the initial high costs of leasing equipment and construction.

The Little Bear project, located on around 1,300 acres, is set to break ground in 2019 and should be complete by 2020. After that, MCE will have the option to expand – potentially growing to 160-megawatts in size, it said in 2016. Next door is the NorthStar solar project.

German Firm Plans 1,600-Acre Local Solar Project, by John Lindt, The Sentinel, September 21, 2017.

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