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MidAmerican, SunPower Begin "Major Construction" at Antelope Valley

MidAmerican Solar and SunPower have begun "major construction" at the Antelope Valley Solar Projects (AVSP), two co-located megasolar projects totaling a combined 579 megawatts (AC) generation capacity that MidAmerican bought earlier this year for $2+ billion.

Construction work technically began in January with laying groundwork and putting infrastructure in place, such as trailers and supplies. One MW has already been installed at AVSP, and now efforts will ramp up over the coming weeks with more workers on the ground driving piers for subsequent arrays, according to a MidAmerican spokesperson.

Celebrating this milestone at what MidAmerican Solar and SunPower call "the world's largest solar power development under construction," the two companies hosted a community picnic and celebration at the project site, with representatives of the company and local and state officials discussing the project's construction schedule, environmental values, and technology and community-centered plans for the future.

The AVSP projects, developed by SunPower using its own solar panels and trackers (and eventually SunPower's operations & maintenance services), are on roughly 3200 acres of land spanning Kern and Los Angeles Counties near Rosamond, CA. Both projects are under 20-year power purchase contracts with Southern California Edison (SCE). Construction technically began in January and will continue through the end of 2015; during that three-year stretch the companies expect to employ about 650 workers and generate the majority of an anticipated $500 million in "regional economic impact."

Other large solar projects in the same proximity reportedly have run into delays with problems about environmental impact during construction. AVSP's dust mitigation efforts are "a multi-pronged approach," says the MidAmerican spokesperson. This site won't need massive grading, and road creation will be the only land disturbance, they claim; crews will drive posts where they're needed and then leave the ground as-is. Also there is ongoing spot reseeding of native grass where it's not already growing in, continuing efforts by the previous local property owners.

Lead image: Hard hat via Shutterstock

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