San Diego Community Power (SDCP) is bringing peak performance to solar projects.
Last month, SDCP and Scottsdale, Arizona-based Arevon broke ground on Vikings Energy Farm, a so-called solar ‘peaker’ plant – one of the first in the U.S. The plant will combine solar production with energy storage at utility scale.
“The Vikings Solar Farm project will help ensure San Diegans have access to reliable, renewable power at any time – including extreme weather events, like the heat wave we experienced in September,” said Byron Vosburg, SDCP managing director of power services.
Vikings Energy Farm is being built in Holtville, California in neighboring Imperial County. The facility’s unique configuration – 137 megawatts of AC solar power, coupled with 150 megawatts/600 megawatt hours of battery energy storage – will allow it to shift daytime solar production and provide energy in peak late afternoon and evening hours.
“Traditionally, solar plants have been paired with a battery that only represents a fraction of their capacity, said Aron Branam, vice president of development and construction at Arevon, adding that Viking breaks tradition by scaling the storage capacity to nearly match the solar output.
“We’re taking 137 megawatts of solar and we’re combining that with 150 megawatts and 600 megawatt hours of energy storage. This unique design will allow the facility to provide energy whenever it’s needed, helping stabilize the grid and provide on-demand power.”
Vosburg pointed out that the breaking ground on the Vikings project is “especially exciting” for SDCP because it was the first power purchase agreement (PPA) it signed after SDCP was founded in 2019 by an agreement by the cities of San DIego, La Mesa, Chula Vista, Encinitas and Imperial Beach to form a CCA (community choice aggregator) with the goal of providing 100% renewable energy to the grid.
Initially, SDCP signed the PPA with RAI Energy and Apex Energy Solutions in May of 2021. Arevon acquired the project from in October of that year.
“This is the first of many solar-plus-storage projects San Diego Community Power will invest in so we can provide our customers with sustainable electricity at competitive prices for years to come,” Vosburg said. “This is one of four power purchase agreements that we’ve signed to build new renewable energy facilities in California to serve our customers and we are actively pursuing others as well – we’re excited for the next few months to announce a number of those,”
SDCP has a goal to have 15% of its renewable energy locally sourced by 2035.
“And Vikings Energy Farm is a big part of that,” Vosburg said, adding that when completed the project will supply energy to roughly 70,000 homes. “So 5% of homes in San Diego County. That’s not nothing, that’s a big part of our portfolio as we grow here.”
Local Company, Local Jobs
The Vikings Energy Farm is being constructed by San Diego-based SOLV Energy. SOLV has built over 280 solar projects across the country, including other notable Imperiel Valley projects like the 138-megawatt Drew project and the 200-megawatt Mt. Signal project, both in Calexico.
Branam said Arevon is looking forward to working with SOLV because of its “track record of successful projects in Imperial Valley.”
The Vikings project will be built using union labor and provide more than 250 construction jobs, Branam said.
Construction for Vikings is expected to be completed in 2024 and will be SOLV’s first peaker plant project.
“While we’ve built solar-plus-storage facilities before, I believe this is the first with the 1:1 configuration that allows it to function as a peaker plant,” said Jennifer Hershman, director of community relations at SOLV. Hershman added that peaker plants are important because they “make renewable energy dispatchable, adding to grid reliability while reducing the need for fossil fuel-fired peaker plants. Facilities like Vikings will allow utilities and consumers to choose renewable energy more often.”
San Diego Community Power
CEO: Karin Burns
Headquarters: San Diego
Business: Nonprofit community choice aggregation renewable power supplier
Notable: SDCP provides energy to nearly 1 million homes and businesses in San Diego County, about half of what SDG&E served when SDCP was founded.