Construction starts on Antelope Valley solar project

Antelope Valley Solar Project

Antelope Valley solar projectConstruction started on the world’s largest solar project Friday.

The Antelope Valley Solar Projects consist of two co-located solar arrays in Kern and Los Angeles counties in California. The 579-megawatt solar projects will generate enough electricity to power more than 400,000 southern California homes. The project will require 650 full time workers during its three-year construction time and will have a regional economic impact greater than $500 million, according to a release about the endeavor.

SunPower is developing the project in cooperation with future project owner MidAmerican Solar, a subsidiary of Warren Buffet-controlled MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.

When the Arizona company announced at the beginning of the year that it was going to take ownership of the SunPower projects, it was significant as it will add almost 20 percent to parent company MidAmerican Renewables total holdings of just over 1,800 megawatts of renewable energy projects.

While a newer subsidiary solar is growing part of the portfolio. The company also owns a 550-megawatt installation in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. and a 49-percent share of a 290-megawatt solar array in Yuma County, Ariz.

MidAmerican leadership said the company is committing to the communities where it owns these solar projects.

"The Antelope Valley Solar Projects are already creating needed jobs and economic opportunity in local communities, while at the same time, providing direct, long-term environmental benefits," said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar. “We look forward to continuing our involvement in the Rosamond, Lancaster and Palmdale communities and, as we move forward, in the surrounding areas.”

SunPower designed the Antelope Valley project, is developing it and will maintain it under its agreement with MidAmerican. SunPower has been actively developing its own projects and creating its own pipeline for panel sales since the solar panel manufacturing market started to be squeezed by rapidly-plummeting prices and low margins.

Southern California Edison has agreed to buy the power the Antelope Valley project generates under two long-term power purchase agreements.