Solar News: Notable Projects in California, Massachusetts

Largest US Solar-Equipped Affordable Housing Project

SolarWorld’s panels will provide electricity to 1000 low-income families in Santa Barbara County, California. 

The 2 megawatt (MW) system is believed to be the nation’s largest for a government-sponsored affordable housing project.

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara unveiled the project last week.

The ambitious installation encompasses 21 sites around the county, 250 separate structures, five municipal permitting jurisdictions and three utilities. All told, more than 7,200 solar panels – made by SolarWorld – will offset 100% of the energy consumption of 863 units of affordable housing, including both tenant and common areas, and trim power costs for both the Housing Authority and residents.

Germany-based SolarWorld (SWV.DE) employs about 250 people at its Camarillo, Calif. plant, which has been operating since the late 1970s. It employs over 1,000 workers at its American manufacturing headquarters in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Massachusetts Largest Privately-Owned Solar Project

Cathartes Private Investments of Boston announced plans to build Massachusetts’ largest privately-owned solar power plant on 22 acres of industrial land in Westford, Mass.

Cathartes will partner with solar company Nexamp, and construction is scheduled to begin this fall on the $23 million, 4.5 MW system.

National Grid will connect the solar-generation facility to the its distribution system and purchase the energy through the State’s new net-metering law.

Cathartes will receive solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), which it will be able to sell to utilities and other energy suppliers who are required to purchase them under the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Jim Goldenberg, principal of Cathartes Private Investments, says Cathartes’ long-term strategy involves constructing additional solar-energy facilities in Massachusetts.

Installed solar in Massachusetts has soared in recent years from 3.5 MW in 2007 to more than 92 MW planned or installed by the end of this year.

“Massachusetts spends approximately $22 billion annually on energy, of which about $18 billion leaves the state and the country. Renewable projects offer the opportunity to reduce this trend – creating local jobs and reclaiming economic opportunity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and lowering long-term energy costs,” says Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia.

Suntech To Supply Panels for 28 MW California Power Plant

California-based solar developer SunPeak Solar, LLC, has selected Suntech Power (NYSE: STP) to supply 28.7 MW of solar panels for a plant in Niland, California.

Constructed on a 123-acre lot adjacent to the Imperial Irrigation District Niland electric substation and natural gas turbine facilities, the solar plant will generate enough energy for 14,000 homes in the utility’s service area in Imperial County and parts of Riverside and San Diego counties.

It will also help meet daily peak electricity demands, which reached their highest level to date last year at 1000 MW. Solar will provide 2.3% of peak demand during the hottest, sunniest hours of the day.

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