Topaz Solar farm reaches major milestone

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The five millionth solar module has been installed this week at the Topaz Solar Farm, one of the largest solar projects under construction in the world.

The five millionth solar module was installed this week at the Topaz Solar Farm. Located in San Luis Obispo County, California, the solar farm is one of the largest solar projects under construction in the world. The first solar module was installed May 16, 2012, and upon completion, the 550MW (AC) project will include more than 8 million PV panels.

The installation of the five millionth module is a major accomplishment for everyone involved with the project,” said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar. “A project of this magnitude requires extraordinary teamwork – from local communities and government and environmental leaders to contractors and suppliers – to ensure it is successful in safely and reliably delivering renewable energy to California.”

The Topaz project is owned by MidAmerican Solar and is being constructed by First Solar, which also will provide operations and maintenance (O&E) services. Construction began in late 2011 and is expected to be complete by early 2015.

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When fully operational, the Topaz site will generate enough electricity to power 160,000 average homes, and displace 377,000 tons of CO2 annually, the equivalent of taking 73,000 cars off the road.

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During its three-year construction period, the Topaz solar project will create an average of approximately 400 construction jobs. According to an economic benefits study by The Brattle Group and California Polytechnic State University, the Topaz project is estimated to infuse $417 million into the local economy, the majority of which will be generated during construction.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company will purchase the electricity from the Topaz project under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA), helping California meet its mandate to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.