Calif. Photovoltaic Solar Farm Now Shovel Ready

CalRENEW-1, the first utility-scale photovoltaic solar farm to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission under the state's Renewables Portfolio Standard program, has received all required environmental approvals and is now shovel ready, announced Bill Barnes, chief executive officer of Cleantech America, Inc., the project developer.

The solar farm, which could begin generating zero-emission, renewable power as early as the end of 2009 and no later than April 30, 2010, will deliver 5 megawatts (MW) of electricity annually to PG&E under a long-term power purchase agreement.

To be located in the city of Mendota in California's Central Valley, CalRENEW-1 will provide air quality benefits to Fresno County while creating needed green jobs.

Photovoltaic solar has been found to create more jobs per megawatt of capacity than any other energy technology, according to a University of California-Berkeley study. Job creation is particularly key in California's Central Valley, where the jobless rate, historically high, has recently soared to 41 percent, largely due to a three-year drought.

Cleantech America, Inc. is working with the city of Mendota to develop programs to re-train area residents to become solar installers. The firm has pledged $20,000 toward that effort.

"Having passed the final environmental review, we are now ready to advance to project finance and construction," Barnes said.

CalRENEW-1 was deemed to have no significant environmental impact under the California Environmental Quality Act. Photovoltaic solar creates no emissions, uses minimal water, requires no hazardous materials use or storage, and has virtually no visual or noise impact.

Cleantech America, Inc. is a San Francisco-based developer of utility scale photovoltaic solar farms and other renewable energy projects.