San Diego Business Journal

SDG&E to Tap Energy Sources In Kern County

Friday, November 2, 2012

San Diego-based EDF Renewable Energy held a dedication event recently for two large-scale energy projects in Kern County that will provide power to San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

The projects located within a few miles of each other are just north of Rosamond and consist of Pacific Wind, which is comprised of 70 wind turbines that are each 20 stories high spread across 8,500 acres, and Catalina Solar, comprised of 1.2 million solar panels distributed across 1,100 acres.

Pacific Wind began operation in August and the first phase of the Catalina Solar project will begin in December.

Mark Tholke, vice president of EDF Renewable Energy southwest region, said the expected output from Pacific Wind is 140 megawatts, or enough power to serve more than 40,000 homes annually. Catalina Solar’s output will be 143 megawatts, or the equivalent of serving more than 35,000 homes annually.

SDG&E has a 20-year contract to purchase power generated by these two projects.

The projects which were initiated, developed and owned by EDF Renewable Energy alleviate intermittency concerns raised by a typical wind project that produces energy 40 percent to 50 percent of the time, said Tholke. Solar power will peak during the day and in summer while the wind power will peak at night and in the winter.

“It’s maximizing the transmission of power that all of the ratepayers have paid for,” he said.

The projects’ compatibility extends to sharing certain infrastructure and transmission facilities tied to the nearby Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project.

With a total capital investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Tholke, he said the two projects are the direct result of California’s renewable energy mandate, as well as the federal production tax credit and the investment tax credit.

“The PTC for wind, and more recently the ITC for solar, assist renewable resources in leveling the playing field against fossil fuels, which have decades of government incentives behind them,” said Tholke, who cautioned that wind project development in the U.S. is in jeopardy as the federal production tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year.

--SDBJ Staff Report