Sunday, July 7, 2013

Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One Panels Dominates the Far West of the Valley

The enormous 230-megawatt (AC) solar power plant continues to rise from the desert floor. It rises about four feet above the ground for miles and looks like a winery field from a distance. Most of the frontage from Hwy 138 Ave D is covered by a fence. It actually doesn’t run up to the highway as it is set back a few hundred feet, and you can see the panels from the road as there is a covered fence to obscure your view. First Solar provides the engineering, procurement and construction services for Exelon. They have made great strides since this past March. They hired up to 350 employees mainly from Lancaster and Palmdale area the last several months according to news reports. It has also made a substantial impact on the local economy with daily hauling and lunches for the 350 plus employee and subcontractors and local vendors. They have had some obstacles to even begin. The local communities were against the project primarily. There was theft and property damage on the sites, and some rattle snake scares as well. News reports indicated they had issues the terrain which prevented them from meeting the conditional use permits (CUP) and loan guarantee deadline, but looks like they prevailed. This facility plans to produce 230 megawatts which should provide the energy needs of 75000 homes a year. Antelope Valley continues to be a sought after site as they get 300 days of sunshine a year. .A big advantage for First Solar is that the land was used before for farming, but not recently. This previous disturbed land eliminated some environmental concerns as there were no endangered plants or animals in the area. First Solar is also working on the Alpine Solar project further west toward Hwy 5. Alpine Solar is NRG’s 92 megawatt project also near Hwy 138. Nearby Local community leaders and News reports indicate more and more projects are being proposed in the area. The Antelope Valley may get their wish as the solar capital of the world as these project progress.

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