Sunday, December 5, 2010

Solar Powered Farm Planned for Newberry Springs

A New York-based renewable energy company that has built wind farms near Tehachapi is developing a 230 megawatt solar farm on about 1,500 acres near Interstate 15 in Newberry Springs.

Terra-Gen Power plans to build the River Bluff Solar Energy Park -- a photovoltaic solar farm -- on Cherokee Road near Harvard Road in Newberry Springs. Once the project is built, it will be capable of powering between 30,000 and 40,000 homes, according to company representatives.

The solar farm will be funded by private money, but federal tax credits are available for renewable energy projects, said Ron Kiecana, vice president of development for Terra-Gen.

The project will be located on private property, a portion of which was once used for agricultural purposes, said Doug Hahn, a representative of CH2M Hill, an environmental consulting firm. Hahn has been working with Terra-Gen on the environmental analysis of the solar farm site.

Terra-Gen representatives expect to submit a conditional use permit application to San Bernardino County later this month. Construction is expected to begin in late 2012. Project developers plan to connect the project with Southern California Edison's power grid.

According to Mark Casper, Terra-Gen's vice president of environmental development, the project will create 200 to 300 construction jobs. Project representatives couldn't give specifics as to how many long-term jobs the project would generate.

The closest development to the proposed project site is Ironwood Christian Academy, which about three-quarters of a mile down the street from the solar farm's boundary. Sam Brock, Ironwood's director of ministry, said he doesn't have anything against the project.

"I don't know of anything that we know of right now that would make it a negative impact," he said. "In our own organization, every couple of years we look at possible ways to solar or wind. We are always trying to see if that's a possible source of energy for us."

Terra-Gen is the company behind the Alta Wind project -- a 720 megawatt wind farm outside Tehachapi. It also has developed geothermal projects near Ridgecrest and has 50 percent ownership in solar thermal projects near Harper Dry Lake.


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