Got Solar Energy? When Utilities Opt to Share

What’s better than lessening your impact on the environment via renewable energy sources? Sharing those sources with others. An LS Power subsidiary has signed a 20-year power-purchase pact with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) which will allow the San Diego utility to procure up to 130 megawatts of solar energy from the proposed Centinela Solar Energy facility in Imperial Valley.

The purchased megawatts will be used for Sunrise Powerlink, a 120-mile transmission line that SDG&E will run from San Diego to the Imperial Valley. Scheduled to be finished in 2014, the Centinela Solar Energy facility “will send up to 130 MW of solar power to SDG&E’s service territory across the Sunrise Powerlink, a 120-mile, 500-kilovolt electric transmission line which was designed to tap into the vast renewable resources of the Imperial Valley,” according to SDG&E. The Sunrise Powerlink, which should be finished in 2012, will carry up to 1,000MW of electricity. Without the Powerlink, many renewable energy facilities in Imperial Valley have no clear path to the San Diego market. The contract will produce enough green power for roughly 45,000 households.

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Image via SDG&E

A 1,150-acre site near Calexico, California, is the site for Centinela Solar Energy, which will employ photovoltaic technology — an ideal location, given the surplus of glaring desert sunlight. Power generated at the facility will be emissions-free and create hundreds of local construction jobs.