The Desert Hot Springs solar project is a 2.9 MW capacity solar farm on the outskirts of Desert Hot Springs, Calif. The installation, constructed by Borrego Solar and owned by ConEdison Solutions (CES), is the City’s first large distributed generation solar project and will contribute more than 3,900 megawatt hours of clean energy annually to the utility grid. This is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by 251 single-family homes for one year.
Mark S. Shirilau of Riverside, an engineer, bought the site in January 2011 specifically to develop a small-scale solar plant. The 2.9 MW installation utilizes a single-axis tracking solution and spans 14 acres of land on the outskirts of town. Thanks to the tracking solution, the solar modules will track the sun’s trajectory throughout the day, producing more clean energy than a fixed tilt solar solution. The upfront cost and long-term costs to operate and maintain a tracking system are higher, but the energy output per square foot is exponentially better.
Design engineers and construction team leaders worked closely with Desert Hot Springs staff during the permitting approval stage because the City had never approved a solar project before.
The solar energy system was built on private land for between $7 and $9 million by CES, the financier and owner of the project. The landowner will receive regular lease payments for using their land, and the power generated is being sold to Southern California Edison (SCE) as part of SCE’s California Renewable Energy Small Tariff (CREST) program, which provides a standardized fixed price per kWh energy payments to qualifying renewable energy generators.