Imperial, California - Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, under construction along Interstate 8 west of El Centro, is producing approximately 50 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable power from a completed portion of the utility-scale solar project for San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E).

At the same time, construction activity at the Tenaska Imperial West site is peaking, with more than 850 construction workers, 79 percent of which are from the local area, and boosting the economy with more than $5 million to date in the local purchase of goods and services.

“Tenaska Imperial West is already making a significant contribution to California’s renewable energy future and boosting Imperial County’s economy. One of the reasons our contractor has been so successful hiring locally is because the county now has a ready supply of skilled workers and laborers,” said Robert Ferrara, Tenaska director, development. “SDG&E’s vision of a renewable energy pipeline from Imperial County is a reality.”

Construction of the interconnection facilities for the Tenaska Imperial West project began in June 2014, with work on the solar field commencing in November. The solar project, Tenaska’s second in the Imperial Valley, is being energized in phases and is scheduled to be complete in 2016.

When complete, Tenaska Imperial West will comprise 1.8 million photovoltaic (PV) panels and be able to produce 150 MW, enough power for more than 55,000 California homes. Power from the project is being sold to SDG&E under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Tenaska and its contractors, First Solar, Inc. and Dashiell Corp., have worked to maximize hiring of qualified local workers. They have also worked with Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC) to identify and hire qualified local vendors for solar projects in the Imperial Valley.

“We have successfully reached several construction milestones thanks to the commitment of our contractors, including installing 1 million PV modules and generating a significant amount of power, and contracting and purchasing locally as much as possible – all while maintaining a safe worksite,” said Vasu Pinapati, Tenaska project director, engineering and construction. “We especially appreciate the individual commitment to quality, safety and environmental compliance by each of the workers, as well as project staff.”

Tenaska Imperial West is delivering its initial energy over the Sunrise Powerlink. The 117-mile transmission line between the Imperial Valley and San Diego has been the main catalyst for renewable energy projects such as Tenaska Imperial West and the 130-MW Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South. Currently SDG&E has enough renewable electric projects under contract to total 38.8 percent of SDG&E’s electric supply in 2020.

Tenaska Imperial South is capable of generating power for approximately 44,000 homes for SDG&E. It began commercial operation in 2013, the same year it was named Project of the Year by IVEDC for its contributions to the region.