Last week, Google invested $145 million in an 82 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Kern County, California. The solar power plant, called the Regulus project, is being developed by SunEdison on top of an old oil and gas field about 11 miles southeast of Bakersfield, California. It will generate enough energy to power 10,000 homes. The 743-acre site went from 30 oil wells to five as it exhausted its fossil fuel reserves.
The solar project is creating 650 jobs in Kern County, and will help meet California’s renewables portfolio standard of 33 percent of the total electricity load coming from renewable energy by 2020. The project, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014, is expected to generate $6.1 million in property tax revenue and $25.4 million in sales and use tax revenue for the county over its 20-year contracted life. The power company, Southern California Edison (SCE), is under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SunEdison to contract the power produced.
Google has invested more than $1.5 billion in renewable energy projects for a total of 2.5 gigawatts (GW). Some of the tech giant's other investments are also in California, including Mount Signal Solar, a 265.7 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Imperial County. Mount Signal Solar will generate enough energy to power 80,000 homes. San Diego Gas & Electric has a PPA with SunEdison to contract the power produced from the solar plant. Google’s other renewable energy investments in California include:
Isis Solar, a 26 MW solar PV plant near the Kings County border, is located near a PG&E substation where it will interconnect to the utility grid. It will create about 90 jobs during its construction. Orion 1-2, a 26 MW solar PV plant about 11 miles southeast of Bakersfield, will generate enough energy to power 4,300 homes. Both PG&E and SCE are under 20-year PPAs with SunEdison to contract the energy produced. Orion 1-2 will generate $1.3 million in property tax revenue and $9.4 million in sales and use tax revenue for the county over its 20-year contracted life.
Kern County is also in need of jobs. The unemployment rate in the county is higher than the state’s unemployment rate. In July, unemployment in Kern County was 10.4 percent, while the state unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.
Image credit: Google
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.