Dalfen Industrial Acquires Central Valley Property

Dalfen Industrial has acquired a 417,600 square foot industrial building in Lathrop, CA – a submarket within East Bay’s Central Valley. The opportunity was sourced off-market and is 100% occupied with an additional 10.85 acres of prime developable land. The property has a strategic last mile location with close proximity to I-5 as well as the Port of Stockton and the Union Pacific and BNSF Railroads. This location offers access to over 839,000 people within a 30-minute drive with a population that is growing at a rate 47% faster than the national average. Other companies in the area include Home Depot, Wayfair, Tesla, Amazon, DHL and Kraft.

“Strong growth dynamics in this region have resulted in increasing industrial demand, making this a great addition to our west coast portfolio,” said Rich Weiss, Market Officer for Dalfen. “The Central Valley is a major west coast distribution hub with same-day delivery capabilities to nearly 46 million people between San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, and all the cities in between.”

“This acquisition exemplifies our continued focus of adding strategically located west coast industrial assets to our portfolio in order to bolster our last mile fulfillment center footprint in the region” markets.” said Sean Dalfen, President and Chief Investment Officer at Dalfen Industrial. In 2021, Dalfen Industrial has acquired and developed $2.3 billion in industrial properties.


Rail expansion at Castle expected to reduce supply chain issues, Merced County leaders say

At a time of shipping bottlenecks and supply chain shortages, Merced County leaders say expanded rail service at Castle Commerce Center will put Merced County in an advantageous economic position. The Merced County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a deal with Patriot Rail, a short line and regional freight railroad operator, which will lease 6,500 feet of track and related property and pay $1.2 million to increase rail capacity fluidity of shippers in the Castle rail district, according to a county news release. “This agreement is the culmination of years of market analysis and strategic planning,” said Lloyd Pereira, Board of Supervisors chairman, in the release. “Coupled with the autonomous vehicle testing happening at Castle, this is an exciting time for Merced County. We’re on the front end of job creation and economic development.”

The lease is part of the creation of a new rail district, according to county officials, and the lease to Patriot Rail is expected to make Merced County an even more prominent hub for freight rail movement. The deal enhances the ability of agricultural producers, manufacturers, and other businesses in the San Joaquin Valley to ship and receive products via the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad mainline. The BNSF mainline runs adjacent to the rail district, which is located on the southeast corner of the Castle Commerce Center.

A rail spur connects Castle to the BNSF lines and Patriot Rail will build more infrastructure to expand rail service there, the release said. The 20-year lease between Patriot Rail and Merced County has the potential for continued renewals at the discretion of company and county officials, the press release went on to say, and Patriot Rail will maintain the track. “Patriot Rail is pleased to advance and help drive Merced County’s vision of economic growth,” said John E. Fenton, CEO of Patriot Rail. “We are committed to providing service and safety excellence as a premier rail solutions provider, and to partnering with Merced County customers to ensure exciting new competitive options for shipments by rail to build business and grow jobs.” The expansion of rail service at Castle has not gone unnoticed in other economic hubs across the state. Officials at some of the busiest ports in the country herald this development as an opportunity not just for Merced County, but industry partners across the shipping industry. “This agreement will help make Central California a focal point to accelerate goods movement across our state and nation,” said Gene Seroka, executive director at the Port of Los Angeles.


Renewable fuel production heats up in Kern

Renewable fuels production is becoming a bigger focus in Kern lately as investors launch projects that reinforce the county’s prominence in biofuels and advanced facilities are proposed for deriving bioenergy from local waste streams. Final preparations for a new renewable diesel project at the former Big West refinery on Rosedale Highway have roughly coincided with the recent expansion of a plant southwest of Bakersfield that leads the state in production of biodiesel. Plans are being made, meanwhile, for recycling centers that would turn household and other organic waste into biomethane, among other projects under consideration. Cooperation taking place locally aims to build on Kern’s momentum. Enthusiasm is running high as local initiatives stand to receive state money. But becoming a true center of excellence may depend on factors beyond local control.

Harry Simpson, CEO of Crimson Renewable Energy Holdings, recently finished a 50-percent increase in production capacity at the company’s 88-acre biodiesel refinery off Millux Road near Interstate 5. As a local operator, he was encouraged by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal last week for an $83 million energy innovation center at Cal State Bakersfield. Hopefully a commercially viable idea will emerge from the new center, he said. But he noted there’s no guarantee any such innovation would be built locally. “The question is, will this stuff get built in Kern County as opposed to somewhere else?” he said. “It would be cheaper and easier for me to do (business) in Texas or Louisiana than California.”

That possibility isn’t stopping local energy leaders from pursuing a collaboration geared toward capitalizing on Kern’s existing strengths in renewable fuels. One of the industry players participating in the county’s B3K Prosperity economic development initiative is Jennifer Haley, president and CEO of Kern Oil & Refining Co., a 155-employee plant that makes renewable diesel and other fuels at its 26,000-barrel-per-day refinery near Lamont. As her own company looks for strategic partners to do more waste-to-fuel processing and production of ultra-low-carbon intensity fuels, she sees the B3K collaboration as the best way to put local talent and other resources to use creating good local jobs. “It’s how do we pivot or how do we evolve toward managing that carbon intensity and meeting our climate goals?” Although it’s hard to say what products and technology will finally help California achieve its goals, she added, “I think we can define what the future looks like and be a part of the solution.”

California imports most of its biodiesel, just as it imports most of its crude oil. But to the degree that turning California’s growing stream of organic waste into energy is a local affair, at least, Kern is expected to attract investment in the months and years ahead, as the state requires municipalities to divert food scraps and other organic waste away from landfills to fight climate change. J.D. Gessin, operations CEO at West Coast Biofuels, is working to convert an idle produce plant in McFarland into a biodiesel and renewable fuels plant serving the commercial transportation industry. It is expected to employ more than 20 people turning waste oils such as grease and rendered fats into fuel for agriculture, heavy machinery, aviation, tractor-trailers and, eventually, maritime transport.

Separately, the company hopes to deploy a series of modular bioenergy refineries in Kern and as far north as Stockton to gasify organic waste that otherwise heads to a landfill. Each facility would employ three dozen or more people and process 20 to 30 metric tons of waste. Gessin said the company expects to eventually produce not only conventional liquid renewable fuels for decarbonizing commercial transport in California but also renewable electricity, biomethane and hydrogen. Local dairies equipped with large manure digesters also produce biomethane for use in Central Valley transportation. The facilities have ramped up quickly in recent years with state subsidies for capturing and harnessing a potent greenhouse gas methane that otherwise vents to the atmosphere.

In 2020, 589 million gallons of renewable diesel accounted for only about one-sixth of California’s total use of diesel fuel, according to the California Energy Commission. Renewables’ share is expected to jump 40 percent just with the project Global Clean Energy Holdings Inc. is preparing to begin on a portion of the former Big West property. Expected to employ more than 100 workers, the plant is planned to produce 15,000 barrels per day, or 230 million gallons per year. Like other local plants, its feedstock will include used cooking oil and rendered fats, though eventually it is expected to incorporate oil from a crop called camelina. Crimson’s operation on Millux, now responsible for 36 million gallons of biodiesel per year, has been the state’s largest producer of the fuel for almost 10 years. It brings in used cooking oil from as far north as Seattle, but still produces less than California biodiesel sources like Singapore. Still greater potential may lie in biomethane and hydrogen produced from organic waste.

Executive director Julia Levin of the Bioenergy Association of California said the state’s capacity for producing biomethane is pegged at the equivalent of 4 billion gallons per year of diesel — a third more than California’s demand for that fuel — using only waste from landfills, wastewater treatment, animal manure, fats, grease and biomass such as ag trimmings. She noted hydrogen could also be created from such sources. The California Public Utilities Commission has helped by requiring natural gas utilities to incorporate biomethane into the fuel it delivers residential customers for use in heating, cooking and drying. Levin said it won’t be long before more jets, ships and heavy-duty trucks are running on the fuel, given that some forms of transportation won’t easily adopt batteries. There are signs as well that state government is preparing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in biomethane, hydrogen and other renewable fuels. She predicted growing demand as California works to replace the feedstock fueling its natural gas power plants and looks for different forms of long-term energy storage. “I don’t think we’re going to see market saturation for a long time,” Levin said. “The problem is opposite right now. We need to ramp up production much more quickly.”


Real estate forecast spotlights uneven recovery

Optimism sounded from every corner of Bakersfield’s real estate industry at an annual outlook event Tuesday, though some sectors were giddier than others as the pandemic has uneven effects on different kinds of local property. Bullishness led among housing specialists — both multifamily rental and single-family — followed by industrial property, the long-time local favorite. The office market came off as weaker than the rest but, like retail, may have fared better than had been expected. At heart an economic update, the Institute of Real Estate Management’s 10th annual forecast breakfast focused on popular concerns such as rising inflation, interest rates and construction costs. Speakers pointed to continuing challenges such as supply chain problems, but most characterized local and national business activity as having rebounded from the economic wreckage of 2020 and in some respects surpassed 2019’s peak.

Among the biggest news of the day was word that institutional investors have entered the local rental housing market after historically ignoring the Central Valley. Multifamily real estate specialist Marc Thurston with ASU Commercial said during the event, and elaborated by phone afterward, that two of three buyers who recently came in on private jets have since secured property locally. But because they couldn’t find any built units for sale, he added, both plan to develop new projects. He declined to identify the investors, saying only they were attracted to the fact that some apartment rents in Bakersfield recently topped $2,000 per month, and that they were impressed by the relative openness of the local economy. With the citywide occupancy hovering at historic lows, he said there will be unmet demand even if each project totals as many as 1,000 new rental units. “It doesn’t begin to address the shortage that we have here,” he said.

A similar imbalance is at play in the single-family market, where new President Anna Albiar of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors noted a shortage of inventory has coincided with strong demand — “the recipe for increasing prices,” she said. Kern’s housing affordability, defined as the capacity of a local resident of average income to afford a home selling at the area’s median price, is 45 percent. Albiar pointed out that compares favorably with the statewide rate of 24 percent. Albiar dismissed comparisons to the 2006-07 housing bust, saying buyers back then had far less “skin in the game” when borrowing. New homeowners these days put more money down and so “it’s harder for them to walk away and leave that investment,” she said. Albiar added that although interest rates are expected to rise, they remain historically low.

President and CEO A.J. Antongiovanni of Mission Bank, delivering the event’s highest-level economic overview, said the national economy is exceptional and that spending is exceeding 2019 levels. He called the pandemic so far a “bump in the road,” though he observed that prices and wages are up “and I don’t think that’s temporary.”

Industrial property specialist Oscar Baltazar with Colliers International delivered an upbeat market assessment, saying demand is strong lately and predicting more investors will come north from Southern California. The metro area’s industrial property vacancy rate fell from 4.9 percent in 2020 to 3.2 percent in 2021, he said, as the market expanded more than 3 percent to 63 million square feet. He listed new projects including a 3-acre meat processing facility coming to southeast Bakersfield and a new transmission manufacturing plant. “I believe that rents will continue to go up, construction will go up,” Baltazar said.

Office specialist Matthew Starr with ASU Commercial challenged the notion office space “is dead” in the face of the mass migration to work-from-home arrangements. While there’s likely to be a combination of remote work and in-person labor, he said, company culture is generally created in the office, and work-life balance suffers when business is done from the kitchen. He added that employers appear to be reversing the trend of dedicating less office space per employee. Demand is steadily recovering, Starr said, and there’s no sign of a flood of vacancies ahead. Although oil industry tenants may pull back because of state regulation, he said demand has diversified among users like health care, government, financial services and agriculture. Starr predicted high construction costs will limit the pipeline of new projects and the local vacancy rate is unlikely to top 12 percent, having recently surpassed 11 percent.

Retail broker Vince Roche at Cushman & Wakefield highlighted bright spots like greater integration of food in shopping centers, a dip in online shopping in 2021 and recent local investments by big national retailers like Dutch Bros., Aldi and Raising Cane’s. He acknowledged challenges to tenants like movie theaters, health clubs and museums but pointed to promising adaptive reuse projects like the new Amazon distribution hub at the former Kmart on Wilson Road. Another focus was the Westside Parkway, which he said may have the largest benefit of any local public works project in decades in the way it allows shoppers to get to goods and services much more quickly and efficiently.


Work starts on 100-megawatt solar project in eastern Kern

Construction has begun five miles west of Rosamond on a 100-megawatt photovoltaic solar project called Rabbitbrush Solar, which will come with a battery component storing 50 megawatt-hours of electricity. As the latest large-scale renewable energy project in eastern Kern, the Canadian-backed development is expected to create 300 union construction jobs at its peak. After that it is expected to generate enough power to run 40,000 homes, essentially removing 48,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year — the equivalent of taking 10,500 gasoline-powered cars off the road. Two companies have signed 15-year agreements to buy energy from the project: Central Coast Community Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy. Both are community-choice aggregation providers that sell clean energy to individual customers.

Developer Leeward Renewable Energy said it chose to build in Kern because of the area’s consistent sunlight and flat land. It also credited the availability of electrical transmission lines and other infrastructure nearby, as well as the area’s experienced workforce and the county’s leadership in renewable-energy development. Work began in October at the site near Willow Springs. Construction is scheduled to finish in July and operations are set to begin in August.

Kern’s top planner and lead energy permitting official, Lorelei Oviatt, on Friday described Rabbitbrush as an infill project in an area that’s already home to extensive solar and wind development. She said the county conducted an environmental review of the project and found nothing particularly controversial about it. At least half the jobs generated during construction must be local hires, Oviatt said. She noted the project makes good sense in that battery storage works best near the source of power generation. She also made reference to a simmering conflict between Kern and state government over energy permitting. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has clamped down on oil permitting — a significant source of local jobs and government revenue — even as Sacramento has extended an exemption that denies Kern millions of dollars per year in property tax receipts. “Once again this (Rabbitbrush project) is Kern County’s contribution to California, and we believe that we have a solution for local revenues for right now, but we still continue to advocate for an adjustment to the solar tax exclusion,” Oviatt said.

Leeward reports having 21 renewable energy facilities in nine states with generation capacity totaling about 2,000 megawatts. It says it is working on more than 100 new wind, solar and energy storage projects offering 17 gigawatts of power. Leeward is owned by Canadian pension company OMERS Infrastructure, which reports having $114 billion in net assets.


CSUB in line for $83 million for energy innovation center in governor’s proposed budget

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his new proposed 2022-23 budget Monday morning, and it contains a nice plum for Bakersfield – a plum that could be worth a third of a billion dollars.

What’s the purpose of this seeming windfall? Addressing climate change and the vulnerable Kern County economy. The Kern County oil industry has faced unprecedented challenges over the past two-plus years as Sacramento has worked toward ambitious climate change goals.The number and severity of recently imposed restrictions on petroleum extraction by the state make it clear where this is all headed. That of course prompts the question  – where does that leave the Kern County economy, which relies so heavily on the oil industry? We got an important part of the answer Monday when Newsom – in revealing his proposed 2022-23 state budget –  announced his intention to give $83 million to CSU Bakersfield to research new directions in energy development as the state reduces its use of fossil fuels.  “$537 million will be going to the CSU [system] with the support of the legislature,” Newsom said.  “[Of that] $304 million [is] ongoing, and then new dollars [would be coming] as part of the budget…. On- time money, including a Bakersfield innovation center. Bakersfield, in Kern County, [is] at the center of this transition to low carbon, green growth. (It’s a) remarkable CSU [campus]. …. $83 million investment there.”

CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said the innovation center will help chart the energy future of the state – and the nation. “We are here in the epicenter of energy for the state, for the nation,” she said. “This the right place for that work to happen. So what we’ve proposed was actually a building that will be at the center of research and development for energy innovation. I really do appreciate his trust in moving this forward. He has also given us money for additional faculty that will come to be part of this research center.”

Fourty-four new faculty, to be exact, taking up residency in the California Energy Research center – 74,000 square feet on three levels, with 17 laboratory spaces, including a fabrication lab. No groundbreaking date has been set. The funding is not assured. The governor said higher education will play a crucial part of the state’s plan to address climate change. “We’re very mindful,” Newsom said, “that if we’re going to sprint in this transition we’ve got to support a thoughtful framework.”

The governor’s proposed budget would also add $250 million to help workers train for and find new jobs outside the oil extraction industries. Zelezny says she expects that several institutions of higher learning will participate in that aspect of the plan. All together, that’s a third of a billion dollars that’s being directed toward helping Kern County move away from something that’s been part of its economy and its culture for more than 125 years.


Amazon to open ‘last mile’ warehouse in Fresno, bringing 550 jobs. Here’s what it will do

Online retail giant Amazon is expanding its sizable footprint in Fresno with plans to open a “last mile” warehouse in the eastern part of the city south of Fresno Yosemite International Airport. According to development plans and permit applications filed last year with the city, Seefried Industrial Properties is building a 183,000-square-foot warehouse that will serve as a delivery station – one final stop for packages before they are delivered to customers. The facility is reportedly expected to open in the second half of this year and will operate around the clock with as many as 550 employees.

The site covers about 43 acres at the southwest corner of Olive and Clovis avenues, near the former Sunnyside Drive-In movie theater. The old drive-in property is bounded on the south and west by the Amazon property, according to Fresno zoning maps. HIghway 180 runs along the south side of the Amazon site. Fresno City Councilmember Tyler Maxwell, whose Council District 4 included the site until newly redrawn districts took effect this year, confirmed to The Bee on Wednesday that the project was indeed being built for Amazon. From the time that the first development applications were filed almost a year ago, Maxwell said the nature of the project was kept “pretty hush hush” by both the developer and the city manager’s office.

“Trying to find out more information had been difficult,“ Maxwell said. “My staff had to dig to find out who was behind the fictitious business name, and of course it was Amazon.” In both development applications and in various building permit documents, the project has been described as a “warehouse and distribution facility” or “delivery station” amounting to about 161,000 square feet of warehouse space and about 22,000 square feet of offices and support space. “Delivery stations power the last mile of the tenant’s order fulfillment process and help speed up delivery for customers,” Seefried Industrial representatives stated in a permit application last year.

The developer noted that the site will have parking for more than 1,600 cars and vans, in addition to 12 trailer parking spaces. The building itself will include 17 loading-dock doors. Amazon opened a massive, 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center at the southern edge of Fresno in mid-2018, eventually ramping up its hiring to about 2,500 workers by last year. Since opening, construction has commenced on a nearby second large fulfillment center for Amazon, at 470,000 square feet, after the city of Fresno reached a settlement with residents who objected to the growing number of distribution centers in their south Fresno neighborhood. The company is also stepping up its partnerships with a cadre of “last mile” delivery partners – companies that contract with Amazon for delivery of packages to customers’ doors. The last-mile warehouses serve as an intermediate stop for packages between larger fulfillment centers and customers, providing a final sorting stop where drivers collect packages for delivery.



Madera County is preparing to join the e-commerce distribution revolution in the New Year. Industrial space has always been in short supply in Madera County, with much of the demand coming from value-added agricultural operations — food processing, container manufacturing, etc. But with two e-commerce operations in the works, Madera is preparing to join the ranks of Fresno and Visalia as fulfillment hubs in the Golden State.

That is welcome news for a county that is rapidly diversifying its traditional farm economy while also growing in ways not seen in other Central Valley locales. On both the commercial and residential sides, Madera County is primed for growth in 2022 despite challenges that include Covid-19, drought, clogged supply chains and more. “We are getting more activity and more views than ever in history,” said Bobby Kahn, executive director of the Madera County Economic Development Commission.

The first major e-commerce project in Madera County should be under construction by the middle of next year, Kahn said. Called “Project Sunset,” the distribution center would be located in a Chowchilla industrial park with access to Highway 99. Officials are still mum about which company will operate Project Sunset, which after two phases will consist of a 750,000-square-foot warehouse and 250 new jobs, Kahn said.

While Project Sunset is wrapping up its environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, a much more ambitious project in Madera County is just beginning the process. The proposed 3-million-square-foot Project Riverwood Fulfillment Center would be located on 122 acres near Avenue 7 and Highway 99, according to environmental review documents filed with the state. The facility would be five stories tall and house a 24-hour-a-day operation that would create up to 1,874 jobs.

The project is being developed by Seefried Industrial Properties, a well-known development partner for e-commerce clients that include Amazon. The tenant for Project Riverwood has not been revealed. The Madera County Planning Commission could begin hearings on the EIR as early as June 2022, according to published reports.

Kahn believes these projects represent an economic shift for the county that is being seen all across the US. According to new estimates from the US Census Bureau, Q3 retail e-commerce sales were $214.6 billion, up 6.6% from Q3 2020. By next year, analysts expect online retail sales to represent more than 15% of total retail sales. That figure was 5.3% a short ten years ago.

For Madera County, the addition of e-commerce fulfillment represents a change in the economic mix that was so dependent on agriculture — especially in the industrial space. “We are starting to see a pivot point with logistics companies, distribution centers, last-mile centers,” Kahn said.

The demand for industrial land remains strong in Madera County — a trend that was present well before Covid-19. In the last five years, industrial vacancies have hit below 1% in Madera County. Kahn estimates it is around 2% currently. “The industrial market in Madera County is as active and robust as I’ve ever seen it,” Kahn said.

Some investors smell an opportunity, especially when it comes to light industrial space. One such project is from WHSE Partners, which will break ground Nov. 30 on a 144,000 square-foot, light-industrial project a couple miles east of Highway 99 in Madera city limits.

The project is expected to be delivered by summer 2022 and will include 74 units of multi-tenant space with each unit just under 2,000 square feet. Kahn said possible tenants could include small-scale entrepreneurs and contractors that require a couple thousand square feet and a small yard. Multiple tenants mean healthier cash flow, which makes for a relatively safe investment, Kahn added.

The team behind WHSE Partners (it’s pronounced “warehouse”) includes Chief Operating Officer Erin Volpp and Founder and CEO Rob Boese. Boese also founded Fresno-based Boese Commercial in 2013. “WHSE Partners is excited to build and soon deliver a critical industrial component of Madera. The pro-business environment and central location of Madera make the city a dynamic partners in this project,” Boese said in a statement.

Another anticipated user of industrial as well as retail space is the budding cannabis market, which should makes its debut in the City of Madera next year. The Madera City Council is on the cusp of approving its cannabis-permitting ordinance, which would award up to six standard retail cannabis licenses and two social equity licenses, according to published reports.

In addition to retail, cultivation and warehousing for cannabis has site selectors kicking the tires on vacant spaces that have been on the market for some time, Kahn said. “It will add a whole other element to the economy,” Kahn said. Also in the vein of recreation, Madera County’s hotly anticipated casino by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is anticipated to break ground in Q1 of 2022, Kahn said.

The controversial project has been 18 years in the making, and has been litigated as far as the California Supreme Court. With an apparent green light, the long awaited groundbreaking near Highway 99 north of Madera can proceed, but in a modified way. Kahn said the project would likely be built in phases, with the first phase the construction of the casino to build cash flow, with a hotel and resort coming in a subsequent phase. All together it is expected to create 1,000 jobs. “It will have a definite impact on the local economy,” Kahn said.

Residential growth has also kept pace with industrial growth, with two major new cities — Tesoro Viejo and Riverstone — expected to add thousands of new households and surrounding, self-contained communities. Retail growth is also ongoing, with the revitalization of older shopping centers and vacant space — such as an old Mervyn’s location making way for the fast-growing Vallarta Supermarkets. Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars of investment taking root in Madera County, growth should be the name of the game for years to come.


CIM Group’s Aquamarine, 250-megawatt Solar Photovoltaic Project at Westlands Solar Park, Set to Be Fully Operational by Fall 2021

LOS ANGELES–CIM Group announced today that its Aquamarine, 250-megawatt solar photovoltaic project, part of the first phase of its Westlands Solar Park (WSP), will be fully operational by fall 2021 and is on track to meet its contracted delivery of 50-megawatts of capacity to Valley Clean Energy Alliance. Valley Clean Energy Alliance, which executed a contract with WSP in early 2020, is a locally-governed electricity provider for the California cities of Davis, Woodland, Winters and unincorporated portions of Yolo County.

“We believe Westlands Solar Park is ideally positioned to be a leader in California’s program to reduce the state’s carbon footprint and meet its Renewable Portfolio Standards targets. With Aquamarine advancing to full operation before year-end, we are realizing our vision for Westlands Solar Park to become a major clean energy provider as well as meeting a significant commitment in our company’s ongoing sustainability program,” said Avi Shemesh, Co-Founder and Principal, CIM Group. “With Aquamarine, and the future phases of Westlands Solar Park, we also are bringing clean energy jobs to the region and generating revenue for the local government and area businesses.”

CIM Group recently marked a significant milestone for the Aquamarine project, closing on debt and tax equity financing. Deutsche Bank was the lead arranger of the debt financing. “Deutsche Bank is excited to support CIM Group in its construction and operation of this first phase of the Westlands Solar Park. This is an important step towards our institutions’ shared goal to invest in sustainable and socially responsible projects. We look forward to continue working alongside CIM as they develop WSP and other projects beneficial to the energy transition,” says Jeremy Eisman, Head of Infrastructure & Energy Financing for Deutsche Bank in the Americas.

WSP has the opportunity to contribute to economic development in Central Valley communities by diversifying the region beyond agriculture and creating over 400 clean energy jobs, for both construction and operations, under a union labor agreement governing the entire project. WSP is also poised to generate direct and indirect revenue such as local taxes, purchasing and ancillary spending. “Recently, we completed a new power purchase agreement with Silicon Valley Power which serves the City of Santa Clara. With the imminent completion of Aquamarine, we are in active discussions with numerous entities to supply the clean energy that is critical to meeting the short- and long-term goals for renewable energy – vital to improving communities,” noted Shemesh.

Aquamarine recently entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the City of Santa Clara, CA (Silicon Valley Power) to sell renewable energy credits (REC) associated with 75 megawatts of capacity, joining other off-takers at WSP including Anaheim Public Utility, and is currently negotiating additional PPAs with other potential counterparties. Silicon Valley Power is the not-for-profit electric municipal utility of the City of Santa Clara.

WSP is one of the largest permitted solar parks in the world, with the capacity to grow to more than 2,700-megawatts (2.7 gigawatts) of renewable energy at full buildout and with the potential to provide clean energy to more than 1,200,000 homes. The master-planned energy park encompasses more than 20,000 acres in California’s San Joaquin Valley in western Fresno and Kings Counties and is designed to open in phases to meet the needs of public and private utilities and other energy consumers. WSP has a completed and certified programmatic environmental impact report for the entire project and WSP is one of the few renewable energy zones identified as a Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) thru the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) process.

CIM Group actively looks for opportunities to apply sustainable principles across its real asset portfolios, and at WSP, CIM is repurposing selenium-contaminated and drainage impaired farmland for the development of clean energy. In addition, WSP seeks to improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley as the solar park doesn’t generate fine particular pollution which is a major contributor to the area’s historic poor air quality. WSP has garnered strong support from environmental communities including the Sierra Club, NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The goal of CIM’s clean energy projects is to provide solutions to multiple policy objectives for the state of California’s renewable energy mandate including greenhouse gas reduction and carbon free energy.

Since its inception in 1994, CIM has focused on investing in real estate and infrastructure projects located in or serving densely-populated communities throughout the Americas. WSP, located in a designated Opportunity Zone as defined under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is an example of CIM’s commitment to investing in sustainable assets across communities as well as investing in Opportunity Zones. CIM is a UNPRI signatory and its infrastructure projects have been recognized for sustainability by the California Organized Investment Network (COIN), a division of the California Department of Insurance.