CIM Group completed Aquamarine, a 250 MW project in the 20,000-acre Westlands Solar Park. Aquamarine is the WSP’s first utility-scale solar plant. Construction began in 2020 and was completed at the year-end of 2021. WSP is one the largest solar parks permitted in the United States. It has the potential for more than 2,700 gigawatts of renewable energy when fully built out and can supply clean energy to more then 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 plans to start construction of additional WSP solar projects 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 generates power for California’s grid. It also delivers on its previous power purchase agreements. These include a 50-MW contract with Valley Clean Energy Alliance for renewable energy credits; and a contract with the City of Santa Clara, Calif. (Silicon Valley Power), to provide renewable energy credits for 75MW of capacity. CIM Group is currently negotiating additional power purchase agreements (PPAs) with potential counterparties to Aquamarine and future WSP projects.
“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 greatly from the convergence of interest between disparate groups, such as labor, environmental, labor, and farming. WSP has a certified programmatic environment impact report for the entire project. This allows WSP to permit and move forward with projects within WSP. WSP is also one of the few Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI-designated) Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ).