Several hundred people Thursday celebrated the start of construction of the California Valley Solar Ranch, which will be one of the world’s largest photovoltaic power plants.
Construction began in September north of the Carrizo Plain National Monument, and the facility will begin feeding power into the electrical grid early next year, said Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower, the company building and operating the plant.
When the plant becomes fully operational in three years, it will produce 250 megawatts of power for Pacific Gas and Electric Co., roughly enough for about 100,000 homes. It will cover 1,500 acres, an area roughly equivalent to 1,140 football fields.
The project had to overcome numerous environmental hurdles, most notably concerns about endangered species. County Supervisor Jim Patterson said steps SunPower is taking to protect animals, such as the giant kangaroo rat, will ultimately leave them better off.
“This project really demonstrates that technology and the environment can coexist,” he said.