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California: 8minutenergy and Gestamp given go-ahead to develop 335 MW of PV

8minutenergy Renewables and Gestamp Solar have signed a Generation Interconnection Agreement (GIA) with California’s Imperial Irrigation District (IID), under which they will develop 335 megawatts (MW) worth of photovoltaic projects. The agreement, said to be one of the first of its kind in Imperial Valley, will reportedly see a quarter of a billion dollars invested into upgrading the IID. The 335 MW are split into five separate photovoltaic projects. In total, the projects are expected to create over 1,000 construction jobs and 55 permanent positions in Imperial County.

The first project to be constructed will be the 50 MW Chocolate Mountains Solar Farm. When complete, it will cover an area of 320 acres in the foothills of the Chocolate Mountains, near the Salton Sea, and should generate enough energy to supply over 25,000 households.

According to a statement released, "Construction, commissioning and synchronizing to begin transmitting energy to the grid are projected for the fourth quarter of 2012 or early 2013." 8minutenergy and Gestamp are also aiming to get their Calipatria II solar PV farms online within the next 15 months. Comprised of two 50 MW systems, they are expected to occupy an area of nearly 600 acres when complete. Details of the other projects were not disclosed. It is also not clear which equipment manufacturers will be used, or how much has been invested into the overall partnership. The statement did say, however, that the projects are considered in-state resources and will be located on disturbed, low-productivity and irrigated farmland.

Overall, 8minutenergy is currently developing 12 utility-scale photovoltaic projects, ranging between 50 MW and 200 MW, in the Imperial Valley. They are projected to create $2.3 billion in total economic output and 240 new jobs.

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