Westlands Solar Park, the largest master-planned clean energy park located in California’s Central Valley, encompasses more than 20,000 acres of drainage-impaired farmland for the development of solar energy and storage generation. The retirement and reuse of this drainage-impaired land will contribute to California’s renewable energy and carbon reduction goals as well as facilitate the surface water supply redirection to productive agricultural lands. Westlands Solar Park is designated a Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) and has gained support from a variety of environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Nature Conservancy, the Defenders of Wildlife, and other agricultural organizations and utilities and regulators throughout California and the United States. CIM completed the 2 MW pilot project of Westlands Solar Park in April 2016, and the development of the entire project when complete is expected to deliver over 2 gigawatts of electricity to California’s electric grid.
Two recent legislative efforts at the Federal and State levels will benefit Westlands Solar Park. The U.S. Congress bill for investment tax credits (“ITCs”) will provide a reduction in income taxes equivalent to 30% of a solar project’s cost. In November 2015 the State of California passed a bill which increased California’s goal of generation from renewable resources under its Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”), from 33% by 2020 to 50% by 2030. As a result, investor-owned utilities, electric service providers and community choice aggregators are required source a larger percentage of their power from renewable electricity projects such as Westlands.
- The JV has rights to over 20,000 acres of land that may be purchased from public and private landowners in Kings and Fresno counties that are being converted from agricultural use to be used for solar generation facilities
- Due to the environmental impact of decades of farming and improper drainage at the site, the land is being permanently taken out of agricultural production
- Project will alleviate groundwater depletion in a drought stricken part of the country
- Project is located in close proximity to existing transmission lines
- The project is being developed in phases and is expected to be built out over the next several years
- Renewable Portfolio Standard in California was expanded from 33% by 2020 to 50% by 2030 increasing the required amount of renewable power to be sourced for utilities and electric service providers
- Investment tax credits (ITCs) were extended which will provide a reduction in income taxes equivalent to 30% of a solar project’s cost
- Project is located in one of the few locations in California identified as a competitive renewable energy zone
- Project will create local construction jobs
- A 2MW pilot project recently completed construction on schedule and on budget and is delivering power the city of Anaheim under a 25-year power purchase agreement
- The project has received strong local, state and federal support given the positive social and environmental impact the project is expected to have on the local community
- If built to its full potential, the project would power over 2,000,000 homes