Breaking ground in California Valley: Sun rises on new solar farm

By David Sneed  | Tribune  |  Link to article

SunPower kicks off its project

A forest of thousands of sturdy metal posts is sprouting in the wide open spaces of California Valley.

The posts will eventually support 720,000 photovoltaic panels that will be part of the California Valley Solar Ranch, one of the world’s largest facilities to turn sunlight into electricity.

Several hundred people gathered at the project site near the Kern County line in eastern San Luis Obispo County on Thursday to celebrate the beginning of construction. No mention was made of financial losses recently experienced by parent company SunPower of San Jose, which have caused the resignation of three top executives.

Instead, the event focused on the substantial economic benefits the project will bring to the area. These include 350 construction jobs for three years and an injection of an estimated $315 million into the local economy over the life of the project.

“This is the real deal. It’s jobs, and it’s renewable, emission-free energy,” SunPower Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said during his prepared remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony.

When complete in three years, the solar facility will produce 250 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power as many as 100,000 homes. PG&E will take the power under a 25-year purchase agreement. (complete story)