Throughout 2012, there were many positive accomplishments in our region’s energy outlook and 2013 brings Alter a renewed focus on ensuring a greener, more sustainable energy future. Alter’s mission is to serve as a voice to advocate for alternative energy use, its development in our region and the necessary energy infrastructure required to make it successful.
The following is an update on some of the current issues and activities taking place within the region and the nation.
The ECO Substation Project has cleared another major hurdle and received a Notice to Proceed from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Major construction is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks as final preparations and scheduling occurs. The substation remains on track to be in operation by mid-2014.
The project consists of a new 500,000-volt substation east of Jacumba, rebuilding the Boulevard Substation, linking the new ECO Substation to the Southwest Powerlink, and constructing a 138,000-volt transmission line connecting the two substations.
“The ECO Substation will be a major hub connecting Eastern San Diego County with renewable energy and will provide enhanced reliability in the backcountry,” said Randy Lenac, President of H.O.P.E
of the Mountain Empire and a member of the Alter Leadership Council. “By facilitating the development of the ECO Substation and its coordinated projects, East County residents and businesses will experience improved energy reliability, increased energy diversity and a cleaner environment for us all.”
Congress approved legislation extending the wind-energy industry tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt per hour for one more year. In addition, the bill will give a one-year tax credit extension for bio fuels and energy efficient homes. According to the American Wind Energy Association, failing to extend the current tax credits would have cost the industry over 37,000 jobs.
Furthermore, President Obama reiterated his support for clean energy in his recent State of the Union Address by endorsing the need for more wind, solar and clean natural gas generated energy. The President proclaimed, “We are finally poised to control our own energy future.”
We are excited to learn that researching and developing alternative forms of energy are among our nation’s top priorities, helping our Mega-Region, comprised of San Diego and Imperial counties, and Northern Baja California, remain dedicated to building cleaner and safer forms of energy in 2013.
A recent Forbes article highlights the details of the tax extension. To read the article, click here
The Imperial Valley is positioning itself to be the renewable energy capital of the nation, which will be extremely beneficial to the entire Mega-Region. Four new renewable energy projects are currently under construction and providing numerous benefits to the Imperial Valley. Hundreds of jobs have been created with hundreds more on the way. Economic development opportunities abound, in addition to the millions of dollars in tax revenue and public benefit fees.
The first project is the 265-megawatt Ocotillo Express wind farm that started generating clean renewable energy on December 4. This facility is the first under contract with SDG&E to deliver green energy to SDG&E’s customers across the Sunrise Powerlink.
Also making great strides is the Imperial Solar Energy Center South facility, which is being developed by Tenaska. More than 400 workers are installing the solar panels and wiring the system that will send 130 megawatts of clean solar energy to the San Diego region later this year.
In November, LS Power began construction on the Centinela Solar Energy facility and is scheduled to have the first solar panels installed early this year. Centinela solar will take approximately two years to complete and will generate 170 megawatts of clean solar electricity.
Finally, First Solar broke ground on its Campo Verde project in December. The 140-megawatt solar facility is on a fast track to complete construction and begin delivering energy to San Diego by the end of 2013.
“The renewable energy industry is beginning to flourish in the Imperial Valley,” said Tim Kelley, President/CEO of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation and a member of the Alter Leadership Council. “Our region welcomes this industry and we look forward to becoming the renewable capital of the United States.”
Alter is a leading advocate for rooftop solar energy and alternative energy production within San Diego and Imperial counties. There are a handful of major solar projects that were developed in San Diego last year, with more to come in 2013. This month we will be highlighting the various local alternative energy projects on our website.
Our leadership also recognizes that renewable resources alone cannot provide all of the electricity required to power our homes and businesses. On average, these facilities operate roughly one-quarter to a third of the time, requiring traditional sources of power, such as natural gas fired power plants, to ensure reliable electric service.
Two members of the Alter Leadership Council, Randy Lenac and Christina Luhn, authored an opinion-editorial highlighting this looming reliability problem and its causes in the San Diego region. Lenac and Luhn addressed the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and
potential loss of the Encina Power Plant. Click here
to read the opinion-editorial.
We recognize that our region must seek new sources of traditional energy generation to fill the gaps as more renewable energy projects are connected to the grid. One solution is the proposed Quail Brush Generation Project, which could be powered up quickly through the use of its state-of-the-art natural gas technology when renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar are at a minimum.
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has projected that without more of these quick-start facilities, California will be short 3,100 MW of flexible back-up power by 2017. This could seriously affect the Mega-Region by putting more than two million homes at risk of power-outages according to the CAISO. A recent Los Angeles Times story highlighted the situation here