IMG_5078-392x26123 MW of ground-mounted solar fixed at an optimal tilt

By desert standards in 2013, this isn’t that big. But 23 megawatts of photovoltaics is impressive. The bus splits the field and we meet our host at the modest operating offices. Massive arrays, Chinese-made SunTech modules, 46 half-megawatt inverters. In the distance we see plumes of steam from the geothermal plants. The solar farm is next to Imperial Irrigation District’s Niland electric substation and natural gas turbines. The site, 123 acres in size, is operated by SunPeak Solar LLC, a Canadian company. The field produces enough power for about 14,000 homes; the fixed-tilt solar plant will meet 2.29% of IID’s 1,004 MW peak demand. The North American Development Bank (NADB) provided $77.4 million loan to support the project. It has helped finance 150 infrastructure projects in the U.S./Mexico border region. SunPeak is certainly proud of its solar farm, and the fact that it created local jobs, it put some 400 locals to work all told. We see crews tightening bolts with torque wrenches as desert winds have loosened some without lock washers. Now the Canadian-owned company plans a second field to the north. Our last stop, Renova Solar in Palm Desert, a solar installation company. Owned and operated by Vincent Battaglia, Renova has a business plan focused on local quality. Its works are exclusively in the Coachella Valley, with some 135,000 rooftops, of which less than 3,000 now hold solar panels. Renova is now fielding a fourth crew, managing about 25 installations a month from his Green Zone, an office/classroom space where Renova educates the market about efficiency and solar power.

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