CIM Group celebrates ‘Aquamarine’ solar project in valley
CIM Group this week welcomed government, labor, business, and civic leaders at a celebratory event commemorating the completion and operation of “Aquamarine,” the 250-megawatt project within the 20,000-acre Westlands Solar Park (WSP).
WSP is one of the largest permitted solar parks in the United States — and one of the largest 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 park encompasses more than 20,000 acres in California’s San Joaquin Valley in western Fresno and Kings Counties and is designed to be developed as multiple projects to meet the needs of public and private utilities, businesses and other energy consumers.
Aquamarine is the first utility-scale solar project within the WSP. Construction of Aquamarine began in 2020 and concluded at year-end 2021, on time and on budget, at which time it began contributing renewable energy to the California grid. CIM Group anticipates commencing construction of additional solar projects within WSP in 2022.
“Westlands is an incredible project that’s creating good union jobs, driving local wages and developing a skilled workforce to power the green energy economy,” said George Hershman, CEO of SOLV Energy and Board Chair of Solar Energy Industry Association. “Together with innovative leaders like CIM Group, we look forward to working toward smart solutions to our climate and energy crises.”
Construction of Aquamarine created approximately 500 construction jobs, employing workers from throughout Kings County as well as the nearby communities of Fresno, Tulare and Madera. Many workers benefited from an apprenticeship program provided by IBEW Local 100 with graduates trained in the skills necessary for a career in solar and clean energy development.
“California is blazing a path forward toward 100 percent carbon-free energy generation by 2045,” said California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “Aquamarine and the next projects will help us get there.”
Aquamarine is now generating power for the California grid and delivering on its previously executed Power Purchase Agreements including with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for renewable energy credits associated with 75 megawatts of capacity, a 50-megawatt contract with Valley Clean Energy Alliance, and with the City of Santa Clara, CA (Silicon Valley Power) for renewable energy credits associated with 75 megawatts of capacity. CIM Group is currently negotiating additional PPAs with other potential counterparties for Aquamarine and future projects within WSP.