Construction begins on 100 MW/50 MWh solar + storage project in California


Kern County, California, home to some of the most utility-scale solar development of any county in the nation, is set to feature another large array. Leeward Renewable Energy, Central Coast Community Energy, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy announced that construction has begun on the Rabbitbrush Solar project.

The project is being developed by Leeward Renewable Energy, with engineering, procurement, and construction provided by McCarthy Building Companies. Central Coast Community Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy both signed on to purchase generation from the project via 15-year power purchase agreements.

The 100 MW Rabbitbrush facility, which also includes a 20 MW/50 MWh battery energy storage system, will install First Solar’s thin-film modules, though no specifics have been shared with regards to inverters or choice of mounting.

Construction on the Rabbitbrush Solar Project is expected to be completed by end of July 2022, and the facility is estimated to begin operation by the end of August 2022.  Along the way, the project’s construction is expected to generate roughly 300 new union jobs, with additional long-term operations jobs to come after completion.

Central Coast Community Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy are both California community choice aggregators. A recent order requires the state’s load-serving entities, including CCAs, to build at least 11.5 GW of new resources by 2026.

Just last month, Valley Clean Energy signed a 15-year power purchase agreement for power from the Leeward Renewable Energy-developed Willow Springs 3 facility, also in Kern County.

Willow Springs is a 72 MW solar, 36 MW (144 MWh) storage project that is expected to supply enough energy to serve around 27% of VCE’s 125,000 customers. Leeward will own and operate the facility. Construction is set to begin this December.

Also slated to begin construction in Kern County this December is Leeward’s Chaparral Solar facility, which is planned to sell its power to Peninsula Clean Energy, a CCA that serves San Mateo County. The project is a 102 MW solar, 52 MW (208 MWh) storage facility that is  expected to come online by the end of 2023.

Other notable solar projects in Kern County include the Springbok solar cluster, a group of three projects, all developed by 8minute Solar Energy. The three have a combined capacity of 443 MW and were completed in three phases.

Kern County is also home to the 192 MW Rosamond Central solar project. Constructed by McCarthy Building Cos., this Kern County installation has power purchase agreements with regional community choice aggregators East Bay Community Energy and Clean Power Alliance, as well as the City of Palo Alto Utilities.

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