Center to benefit renewable energy developers

By Lisa Gibson
Posted April 23, 2009, at 3:30 p.m. CST

More than 140 people attended the May 5 grand opening of San Diego Gas & Electric's Renewable Energy Resource Center in California's Imperial County, including many renewable energy project developers, according to the company.

The new center, staffed full time by SDG&E personnel in El Centro, Calif., is designed to assist renewable energy developers in launching their projects in Imperial County. SDG&E, which serves San Diego and southern Orange County, hopes the center will be a "one-stop-shop" for developers to navigate the procurement process and research local energy issues. Studies have shown there is abundant potential for solar, wind and geothermal power in the region, according to SDG&E senior public relations manager Jennifer Ramp.

During its few days in operation, the center has seen a steady stream of visitors, including representatives of community-based organizations, Imperial Valley Irrigation District staff, County Board of Supervisors staff and many more, Ramp said.

The center also will serve as the local development office for the Sunrise Powerlink, a 123-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission line that will carry up to 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy from Imperial Valley to SDG&E's customers in San Diego County, according to the company. SDG&E received approval for the powerlink in December and construction will begin in 2010. Tessera Solar has contracted to sell SDG&E 900 megawatts of solar power from its Imperial Valley facility.

"We believe the center will benefit the Imperial Valley region and provide jobs and a new economy to an area experiencing a 25 percent unemployment rate," Ramp told Biomass Magazine.

The center will benefit the region, Ramp said, allowing Imperial Valley to tap into a new resource, thereby enabling a new economy to take shape, and providing SDG&E customers with more renewable power. It also will help the company increase its renewable portfolio to the 20 percent renewable power standard by 2010 and 33 percent by 2020, Ramp said.