Now Kern County can also brag about another type of farming, capturing the energy from the sun. And the southern Central Valley needs it, having the worst air quality in the US.
On Tuesday, February. 18th, 2015, the SunEdison Regulus Solar officially open the Bakersfield Solar Field, their largest solar project in the US to date. The power that it produces is sold to PG&E and SCE. A new transformer and transfer station was constructed just to transfer the electricy to the main grid. The ribbon cutting had it's fair share of SunEdison and Google execs, as well as Laticia Perez (Kern County Supervisor). Other community partners were in attendance, including Kern Economic Development Corporation, Kern Community College District, Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, Lamont School District, Arvin School District, Lamont Chamber of Commerce and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Attendees were given a bus tour around the solar farm, which was very impressive, although it's simply row after row of solar panels. SunEdison also built a temporary 50ft look-out tower so attendees could get a 360 view of the entire solar field.
The project was in part funded by Google, which invested close to $150 Million (USD). SunEdison Inc. built solar farm project, known as Regulus, for Maryland-based TerraForm Power Inc., which owns and operates solar power plants throughout the world. Prudential Capital Group, Prudential Financial Inc.’s asset management business, Deutsche Bank and Santander Bank provided financing for the project.
The location is just east of Bakersfield near Panama Lane and Commanche Drive. It was once an oil field. In an ironic twist, one oil pump derek was left in the solar field due to construction issues. And if you drive east on Panama to get to the solar farm, you pass right through one of Kern County's oil refineries, quite the juxtaposition. Nick Coons, principal for renewable energy at Google, wrote on the company’s blog, “There's something a little poetic about creating a renewable resource on land that once creaked with oil wells.” Kern County is the top producing county in the US for Wind and Solar energy and Oil!
The Solar Project Stats:
- 663 Acres
- 20 Year Life
- 60 Megawatts
- Enough energy to supply 10k homes
- 120 metric tons of CO2 saved per year.
- Reduce enough CO2 emissions to offset burning 125 million pounds of coal annually.
- 25k cars per year equivalent removed from roads.
- 530 peak employees and 8 year round staff.
SunEdison is a global solar energy company headquartered in the U.S. In addition to developing, building, owning, and operating solar power plants, it also manufactures high purity silicon, monocrystalline silicon ingots, silicon wafers, solar modules, solar energy systems, and solar module racking systems. Originally a silicon-wafer manufacturer established in 1959 as the Monsanto Electronic Materials Company, a former business unit of Monsanto Company, SunEdison is based in St. Peters, Missouri, and the company's solar-energy headquarters is located in Belmont, California with offices throughout the world. Monsanto sold the company in 1989. Prior to May 30, 2013, the company was known as MEMC Electronic Materials; the name change to SunEdison reflects the company's focus on solar energy. The company also continues to manufacture silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry through its subsidiary SunEdison Semiconductor.
Established in the early stages of the semiconductor electronics industry in 1959, MEMC was for the next half century a major and pioneering manufacturer of silicon wafers, the most basic element of semiconductor-chip manufacturing. The company entered the solar market in a big way beginning in 2006, with longterm contracts to manufacture and sell solar wafers to several large Asian solar-energy companies. Contracts with other solar-energy companies followed, as did joint-venture projects on solar power plants. With the acquisition of the large, successful, and pioneering solar-energy systems company SunEdison LLC in late 2009 and the smaller solar-power companies Axio and Fotowatio in 2011, MEMC focused increasingly on the burgeoning solar-energy industry to offset the cyclical downturns in the semiconductor market. The company now develops, finances, and maintains solar power systems and plants for a widespread commercial, public-sector, and power-plant customer base, and its name change in 2013 to SunEdison, Inc. reflects its main focus. It is one of the leading solar-power companies worldwide, and with its acquisition of wind-energy company First Wind in 2014, SunEdison is the leading renewable energy development company in the world.