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Southern California Edison recently announced that it had signed contracts with solar and geothermal energy producers representing more than 1,500 megawatts of power, including 247 megawatts over 20 years from the planned Panoche Valley solar farm in south San Benito County. The contract helps the project move forward, as it needs to have a utility to which it can sell the electricity it produces. It still is seeking permits from the state and federal departments of fish and wildlife, which are expected to seek assurances that concerns about the project’s potential impact on endangered species are being addressed.

The solar project was approved by the county Board of Supervisors in 2010 and in 2011 was the subject of an unsuccessful lawsuit by environmental groups who argued that supervisors violated state environmental and ranchland preservation rules when they approved the $1.8 billion project. A state appeals court in 2013 upheld the local court’s rejection of the lawsuit.

In a press release, the utility isaid it “is committed to continuing to bring renewable power resources to our customers and helping achieve California’s environmental goals,” said Stuart R. Hemphill, SCE senior vice president, Power Supply and Operational Services. “These agreements will help us maintain diversity in our renewable energy portfolio.”   

The agreement, which is still subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, indicates that the Panoche Valley solar farm will be online by 2019.

Want to know more?

To read the full press release from Southern California Edison, click here.

To read a 2010 National Public Radio story about the struggles faced by solar companies in California, click here.

For a story on the solar project’s loss in appeals court, read the story in the San Jose Mercury here.