CIM Group announced that the first 125-megawatt phase of the Aquamarine solar photovoltaic project at Westlands Solar Park (WSP) has reached commercial operation and is fulfilling its energy contract obligations with Valley Clean Energy Alliance and Silicon Valley Power. Aquamarine’s second 125-megawatt phase will be complete and operational by year-end.
“Bringing clean solar power to California from Aquamarine is a major milestone in the realization of the full potential of our 20,000-acre Westlands Solar Park. As one of the largest solar projects in the U.S., Westlands Solar Park, at full build-out, will have the capacity to deliver 2.7 gigawatts of renewable energy, a substantial resource to utilities and businesses advancing their plans to reduce carbon emissions and meet California’s renewable energy goals,” said Avi Shemesh, Co-Founder and Principal, CIM Group.
Achieving commercial operation follows the approval by Pacific Gas & Electric authorizing Cal-ISO to connect Aquamarine to the power grid. Cal-ISO in turn authorized Aquamarine to begin synchronization and start a power generation test project providing power to the grid. The several week test period was successfully concluded and Aquamarine officially began commercial operations on September 17.
Aquamarine is now generating power to deliver on its previously executed Power Purchase Agreements including a 50-megawatt contract with Valley Clean Energy Alliance, the City of Santa Clara, CA (Silicon Valley Power) for renewable energy credits (REC) associated with 75 megawatts of capacity. CIM Group is currently negotiating additional PPAs with other potential counterparties for Aquamarine and future phases at WSP.
WSP – scale and capacity
WSP is one of the largest permitted solar parks in the world, with the capacity to grow to more than 2,700-megawatts (2.7 gigawatts) of renewable energy at full buildout and with the potential to provide clean energy to more than 1,200,000 homes. The master-planned energy park encompasses more than 20,000 acres in California’s San Joaquin Valley in western Fresno and Kings Counties and is designed to open in phases to meet the needs of public and private utilities and other energy consumers. WSP has a completed and certified programmatic environmental impact report for the entire project and WSP is one of the few renewable energy zones identified as a Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) thru the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) process.
WSP and environmental sustainability
CIM Group actively looks for opportunities to apply sustainable principles across its real asset portfolios, and at WSP, CIM is repurposing selenium-contaminated and drainage impaired farmland for the development of clean energy. In addition, WSP seeks to improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley as the solar park doesn’t generate fine particular pollution which is a major contributor to the area’s historic poor air quality. WSP has garnered strong support from environmental communities including the Sierra Club, NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The goal of CIM’s clean energy projects is to provide solutions to multiple policy objectives for the state of California’s renewable energy mandate including greenhouse gas reduction and carbon free energy.
CIM Group infrastructure and sustainable investment
Since its inception in 1994, CIM has focused on investing in real estate and infrastructure projects located in or serving densely-populated communities throughout the Americas. WSP, located in a designated Opportunity Zone as defined under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is an example of CIM’s commitment to investing in sustainable assets across communities as well as investing in Opportunity Zones. CIM is a UNPRI signatory and its infrastructure projects have been recognized for sustainability by the California Organized Investment Network (COIN), a division of the California Department of Insurance.