CIM Group has completed Aquamarine, the 250 MW project within the 20,000-acre Westlands Solar Park (WSP).
Aquamarine is the first utility-scale solar project within WSP. Construction began in 2020 and concluded at year-end 2021.
WSP is one of the largest permitted solar parks in the United States, with the capacity to grow to more than 2,700 GW of renewable energy at full buildout and with the potential to provide energy to more than 1,200,000 homes.
“California is blazing a path forward toward 100 percent carbon-free energy generation by 2045,” says California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “Aquamarine and the next projects will help us get there.”
The master-planned Westlands Solar 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. 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,” states 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.”
“The Aquamarine project employed many apprentices and graduates of the IBEW’s apprenticeship program that has educated and trained scores of workers, setting them on a career path in the growing solar energy industry. The IBEW Local 100 provided 307 electrical workers to Aquamarine, 128 of which were Kings County residents, benefiting the workers, the community and the local economy,” comments Ronny Jungk, business manager and financial secretary of IBEW Local 100.
Aquamarine is now generating power for the California grid and delivering on its previously executed power purchase agreements (PPA) including with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for renewable energy credits associated with 75 MW of capacity; a 50 MW contract with Valley Clean Energy Alliance; and with the City of Santa Clara, Calif. (Silicon Valley Power) for renewable energy credits associated with 75 MW of capacity. CIM Group is currently negotiating additional PPAs with other potential counterparties for Aquamarine and future projects within WSP.
“CIM Group’s commitment to becoming a resource for renewable energy, such as at Aquamarine and the future projects within Westlands Solar Park, aligns with our company’s overarching directive, to meet the needs of communities,” adds Avi Shemesh, co-founder and principal of CIM Group. “We anticipate that approximately $3 billion will be invested in developing projects within Westlands Solar Park as we complete build out, continuing the creation of clean energy construction jobs, economic development throughout the region and contributing renewable energy to meet California’s clean energy goals.”
WSP benefits from an alignment of interest among disparate groups, farming, environmental, labor, the Westlands Water District, the State of California and the federal government, all of which support the development. WSP has a completed and certified programmatic environmental impact report for the entire project, positioning it to permit and move forward on projects within WSP. Further, WSP is one of the few renewable energy zones identified as a Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) thru the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) process.