Category: Energy

SELF-DRIVING BUS BEING BUILT PARTLY IN PORTERVILLE

A 25-foot shuttle bus manufactured in Porterville will be made fully autonomous as part of a new business partnership. Photo via GreenPower

Published On March 2, 2020 – 2:31 PM
Written By 

Coming soon to a street (but probably not near you): an all-electric, autonomous bus.

GreenPower Motor Company Inc., the Canadian-based electric bus maker with an assembly plant in Porterville, is partnering with a Virginia-based technology firm to make it happen.

GreenPower and Perrone Robotics have teamed up to develop the first all-electric, fully-autonomous transit bus, with portions being built in both Porterville and the latter company’s Virginia headquarters.

The EV Star shuttle, a 25-foot-long bus made by GreenPower, could be completed within 90 days, said GreenPower President Brendan Riley.

He noted this will not be a test vehicle, as the company has a buyer lined up who plans to put the bus on the road providing transit services, possibly within six-12 months.

“It will have a safety driver, at least for now,” said Riley, who declined to identify the customer, how that business plans to use the autonomous bus or even in which state it will be used.

“It won’t be in California,” he said.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and other sources report the Golden State, along with 10 others and the District or Columbia, allows the use of all types of autonomous vehicles on roads.

Four of those — California among them — don’t require safety drivers in the vehicles under any circumstances.

Riley said an EV Star is being converted to become autonomous, with Perrone Robotics providing the self-driving technology.

On its website, Perrone Robotics describes itself as having been “behind the first general-purpose robotics software platform for autonomous vehicles and robots. We call this platform MAX. We make the analogy that MAX is to robots as Windows is to computers or as Android is to smartphones.”

In recent years, “we wanted to zero in on places where we could deploy autonomous vehicles sooner rather than later. This led us to focus on last-mile shuttles and then to specific transit routes that operated in well-known spaces,” the website continues, stating that the company created its TONY (TO Navigate You) general autonomy system to be included in existing vehicles and is being added to GreenPower’s EV Star.

Riley noted that this will be a level-5 autonomous vehicle, able to navigate traffic without the need for a safety driver — unless required by law or the owner requires one — and stopping to pick up and drop off passengers, though once the first one is finished, Perrone will initiate a series of tests to certify it operates as it should.

On its website, Perrone officials report they have spent months successfully testing the TONY system in Virginia on a different shuttle bus.

If all goes as planned, Riley said GreenPower is considering building all of its buses to be capable of autonomous driving, if customers choose to add on the programming and if it’s legal where those buses will run.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/self-driving-bus-to-be-built-partly-in-porterville/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=e04ebdf3e8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_02_10_35&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-e04ebdf3e8-78934409&mc_cid=e04ebdf3e8&mc_eid=a126ded657

Westlands Solar Park begins construction

KINGS COUNTY — CIM Group announced recently that it is advancing the development of Westlands Solar Park in Kings County, one of the largest permitted solar parks in the world.

The solar park could grow to more than 2,700-megawatts (2.7 gigawatts) of renewable energy potential at full build out, which could provide clean energy to more than 1.2 million homes, said a press release from CIM Group.

The master-planned energy park encompasses more than 20,000 acres in the Central Valley in western Fresno County and Kings County, southwest of Lemoore, and is designed to open in phases to meet the needs of public and private utilities and other energy consumers.

The first phase of CIM’s development at Westlands Solar Park includes Aquamarine, a 250-megawatt solar photovoltaic project, which obtained all entitlement and conditional use approvals following a full environmental impact review.

CIM signed a power purchase agreement with Valley Clean Energy Alliance, a locally-governed electricity provider for the California cities of Davis and Woodland and unincorporated portions of Yolo County, for 50-megawatts of capacity, with initial delivery anticipated to occur in late 2021.

According to the press release, Valley Clean Energy’s decision to select Aquamarine from a competitive solicitation process was based on its board adopting criteria designed to select cost-effective California-based renewable projects that minimize impacts on prime farmland, environmentally protected species, and habitat.

CIM said it applies sustainable principles across its real asset portfolios, and at Westlands Solar Park, CIM is repurposing selenium-contaminated and drainage impaired farmland for the development of clean energy.

Kings County Supervisor Joe Neves, whose district includes some of the project’s area, said there are challenges with the land in terms of a shortage of water and it not being suitable for permanent crops, which led to land retirement.

Neves said the large project will keep the land active and on to its next application.

“I think it’s a good project,” Neves said.

CIM said its clean energy projects will also provide solutions to multiple policy objectives for the state of California’s renewable energy mandate, including greenhouse gas reduction and carbon free energy.

Additionally, Westlands Solar Park is expected to contribute to economic development in Central Valley communities by diversifying the region beyond agriculture and creating a substantial number of clean energy jobs over the development of the entire project.

CIM earlier completed a 2-megawatt pilot project at Westlands Solar Park in mid-2016 with the Anaheim Public Utility as the off-taker.

NATION’S LARGEST SOLAR FARM PLANNED SOUTH OF PORTERVILLE

Built on 3,800 acres scattered near the town of Ducor, the Rexford Solar Farm will be rated at 700 megawatts in addition to 700 megawatts of energy storage.

Published On February 17, 2020 – 1:49 PM
Written By John Lindt

The nation’s largest solar farm is in the works south of Porterville. The big facility is planned on farmland with a water deficit, perhaps a glimpse of the future for some marginal ag land here.

Tulare County released a Notice of Preparation (NOP) Feb. 14 announcing the big renewable energy project.

Built on 3,800 acres scattered near the town of Ducor, the Rexford Solar Farm will be rated at 700 megawatts in addition to 700 megawatts of energy storage. The solar arrays would eclipse the state’s biggest solar farm in San Luis Obispo — the 550-megawatt Topaz facility built in 2011.

The solar farm is being proposed by a partnership that includes privately held 8minute Energy of Los Angeles, which owns several large utility-scale solar farms in the West, including four in Kern County. The company has a portfolio of more than 14,000 megawatts, including the 260-megawatt Mount Signal Solar Farm in Imperial County. Tom Buttgenbach and Martin Hermann founded it in 2009.

Last year the company signed a 25-year agreement to provide electricity to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Rexford Solar Farm’s electricity would be transmitted to the Southern California Edison (SCE) Vestal Substation via an up to 230 kilovolt (kV) overhead and/or underground gen-tie line. The proposed transmission and/or collector lines would extend along existing roadway rights-of-way from various portions of the project site (where substations are located), ultimately connecting to the Southern California Edison Vestal Substation. The transmission and/or collector lines would be located along portions of Road 232, Avenue 56, Avenue 64, Road 224, Road 240, Avenue 32, Richgrove Drive, and Highway 65, or could possibly utilize additional nearby routings. The total length of the transmission and/or collector lines would be approximately 13 miles in length.

A scoping meeting is scheduled for March 5 at 1:30 P.M. in the main conference room of the Tulare County Resource Management Agency at 5961 S. Mooney Blvd. in Visalia.

The historic Vestal substation near the project site connects the Big Creek hydro project in the Sierra above Fresno through the San Joaquin Valley to Los Angeles.

A full environmental impact review for the Rexford project is expected. The county notice says the project is located in a generally rural area surrounded by existing agricultural uses including dry-land grain, irrigated crops, grazing lands and scattered residential buildings. The placement of solar panels and associated structures would alter the existing character of the site and vicinity, says the report.

Southern Tulare County already has a water deficit problem and may be further affected by the state groundwater program. The area is expected to see idled land and issues with land subsidence.

The majority of the project site is bisected by Highway 65. Residents and travelers on adjacent roads would observe alterations to the existing landscape. The entire project site is designated as Farmland of Local Importance by the California Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program. The majority of the project site is under Williamson Act contracts. The EIR will provide an assessment of potential project related impacts to agricultural resources.

Tulare County has another nearby solar project pending. Tulare Solar Center is rated at 80 megawatts proposed on 1,144 acres. The site is on currently undeveloped farmland situated in south central Tulare County. Approximately 572 acres (or approximately 50%) of the proposed Project site is located east of Highway 65 and south of Avenue 24, with the remainder located west of the 65 and north of Avenue 12.

Another solar project in the area got a hearing last year. The 70-megawatt Deer Creek Solar project would be located on the north side of Avenue 96 (Terra Bella Avenue), bounded on the west by Road 224 and on the east by Road 232, approximately 0.5 miles west of Terra Bella.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/nations-largest-solar-farm-planned-south-of-porterville/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=99b60615ca-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_02_17_08_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-99b60615ca-78934409&mc_cid=99b60615ca&mc_eid=a126ded657

In Lathrop, it’s time for solar sausages

Central Valley Busines Times

December 11, 2019

  • Hormel Foods flips the switch for solar power at its Swiss American Sausage Company facility
  • “This project supports our environmental sustainability goals”

Pizza toppings are made out of many ingredients but now, in Lathrop, they’re being made with solar power. The Hormel Foods Swiss American Sausage Company plant in Lathrop is now making a variety of pepperoni and salami for foodservice pizza toppings with power from 2,000 solar panels installed on both the plant roof and on the ground. The project is projected to generate roughly 1.2 million kilowatt hours per year – enough to supply more than 15 percent of the plant’s annual electricity consumption.

IGS Solar partnered with Holt Renewables LLC to install the solar array, which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 288 metric tons per year,  equivalent to removing 61 cars from the road annually or avoiding burning over 314,000 pounds of coal.

“We are pleased to announce the completion of this project,” says Tom Raymond, director of environmental sustainability at Hormel Foods. “This project supports our environmental sustainability goals and is another example of our commitment and support of renewable energy. ”IGS Solar will own, operate and maintain the array. The company is assisting Hormel Foods to integrate solar generation into its energy portfolio while helping the company better control the long-term energy costs for its buildings.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/04bea1e5-526d-41c8-8305-eff7a6f5ded0.pdf

VALLEY’S FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES SHINE BRIGHT

The number of employees at Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc. dba Solar Negotiators increased to 78 this year. Photo contributed by Solar Negotiatiors.

Published On November 4, 2019 – 12:02 PM
Written By 

With The Business Journal’s 2019 Fastest Growing Companies list (published Oct. 25) comes a variety of companies ranging from upstarts in their industries to recognizable, household names that continue to grow today.

Three companies on the list — No. 5 Boling Air Media you might see at Fresno State games and at the newly revived Lemoore Naval Air Show; No. 2 Suncrest Bank has been in Tulare County since 2008, expanding beyond the Valley in recent years; and the No. 1 company, Solar Maintenance Pros dba Solar Negotiators — found success offering a variety of services in an emerging market.

 

Absorbing the rays

At the beginning of 2016, then-Solar Negotiators and Solar Maintenance Pros hadn’t yet finished the leg of their journey that brought them to being a multimillion-dollar company experiencing nearly 12,000% revenue growth over three years.

The solar brokerage firm that connected homeowners to installers was still separate from the solar panel cleaning service, Solar Maintenance Pros. But by this year, Solar Maintenance Pros surpassed Negotiators in revenue and employees. Leadership decided to combine the two companies into the same entity, offering both installations under their own contractor’s license and upkeep throughout the solar panel’s lifetime.

Owner Chris Moran started Solar Negotiators in 2009, offering consultative services to customers and contracting with a network of installers. They would do marketing, project management and consultations and “anything that didn’t require a contractor’s license,” said Leroy Coffman, president/co-owner of the now-combined Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc., dba Solar Negotiators. This allowed contractors to focus on installations instead of marketing and business development. In 2014, ownership expanded their offerings with maintenance services.

In the Central Valley’s four-county area, 10,000 solar permits are issued every year, estimates Coffman. And in the Central Valley’s dry, dusty climate, Coffman says panels should be cleaned every year to optimize efficiency. Dirty panels limit a panel’s power intake. That’s when Moran, Coffman and others started Solar Maintenance Pros, Inc.

“Solar Maintenance Pros enabled us to be more proactive in that we visit the customer site once a year and give it a visual inspection,” Coffman said. “It turned out that was a very important need that wasn’t being filled.”

Now, Coffman calls Solar Maintenance Pros the “largest provider of solar panel maintenance in the Central Valley.” They even started a company to monitor a system’s power intake and output called Solar Data Pros.

At the beginning of 2016, Solar Maintenance had 3 employees, grossing $44,095 in revenue. With the consolidated company, they now employ 78 people and in 2018, grossed $5.29 million.

“Those people are counting on that power to offset their bill,” Coffman said. “We want to become the top provider of maintenance services and cleaning services for all of those systems.”

 

Growth as a strategy

What was once limited to $99 million in assets and two branches in Tulare County ended up with more than $1 billion in assets and seven branches, stretching from Yuba City to Porterville.

Visalia-based Suncrest Bank is no stranger to lists measuring growth.

As part of a strategy of acquiring assets dating back to 2013, the 800% asset growth the bank experienced between 2013 and 2018 made them the fastest growing community bank in the nation, said Ciaran McMullan, president/CEO.

“We wanted to grow quickly and we wanted to grow by acquisition,” McMullan said.

Three successful capital raises primed them to acquire banks in Fresno, Yuba City and Sacramento, the latter two being new markets for the bank.

They called the goal “Five-in-five” — to grow by $500 million in five years. They met that goal 18 months ahead of schedule in July 2017. By their target date of May 2018, they held more than $900 million in assets.

“We surpassed even our grand ambition we set out at the end of 2013,” McMullan said.

Those assets have translated into 468% revenue growth since 2016, allowing the bank to expand from 25 employees to 108. The market expansion and asset acquisition put Suncrest in a good position long into the future, he added.

“What it does more than anything else to ready us for the future is it really deepens our talent pool,” McMullan said. “It also broadens our geographic exposure.”

 

Eye to the skies

At No. 5 on The Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies list, football fans and aeronautics advocates alike might recognize Boling Air Media’s presence in the skies.

Husband-and-wife team Chris and MaryAnn Boling started the advertising company in 2014 as a way to combine their two passions — marketing and flying.

“My passion has always been to fly, which is a very expensive hobby,” said Chris Boling.

The duo found a way to monetize the pastime by offering marketing opportunities, flying banners and blimps. While technically called a thermal airship due to its using exhaust to move and stay afloat, the company began with the “My Job Depends on Ag” blimp, said Boling. They signed a contract with Fresno State, using skydivers to bring in messages and enliven crowds during halftime shows. They’ve started making appearances at air shows, including the newly revived Lemoore Naval Air Show in September. They’ve done marketing campaigns for national advertisers towing banners and dropping divers to deliver messages.

“Anytime someone wants to put a message up in the air, we can find a media for them,” Boling said.

While there are only 10 pilots in the world who can fly the airship, Boling added, they rely on pilots looking for commercial certification to tow messages. Renting planes to get the necessary 1,500 hours of flying time can be expensive, he said. So, the company contracts with those pilots to deliver messages to the public.

“We’re all living out our wildest dreams thanks to this business,” he said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/valleys-fastest-growing-companies-shine-bright/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=6cd41e0e0c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_04_09_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-6cd41e0e0c-78934409&mc_cid=6cd41e0e0c&mc_eid=a126ded657

Massive solar project 8 years in the making debuts in eastern Kern

Eastern Kern County’s vast renewable-energy potential will shine brightly Friday as corporate and government leaders celebrate the completion of an eight-year, roughly 1,400-acre photovoltaic project designed to generate enough electricity to power more than 150,000 homes in the Los Angeles area.

With a price tag estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, L.A.-based 8minute Solar Energy’s three-phase Springbok project in Cantil has put the area’s otherwise underused real estate to use creating some 850 construction and maintenance positions, as well as 1,100 indirect jobs.

Viewed in the context of existing wind farms in the Tehachapi area and a larger solar plant under development nearby by the same company, the project demonstrates the renewable-energy potential of a county that is sometimes overshadowed by its better-known oil and gas portfolio.

The project’s developer described its achievement in historic terms.

“The Springbok cluster is the first place in the country where solar beat the price of fossil fuels,” 8minute Solar spokesman Jeff McKay said by email. “This is where we helped prove to the world that the future of energy belongs to solar.”

County Supervisor Zack Scrivner, whose district encompasses the project, welcomed the project’s completion.

“I support appropriately located renewable energy projects that hire locally and contribute to the organizations and needs of the community,” Scrivner said by email. “8Minute Energy has shown they are here for the long term and I congratulate them on another successful project in the center of energy for California.”

The project’s 448-megawatt-dc of electricity is being sold to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the city of Glendale.

Next up for 8minute Solar is the project known as Eland, a more than $1 billion installation touted as the nation’s largest solar energy project. Sited a little more than half a mile away from the Springbok cluster, it was recently approved by the city of Los Angeles.

What makes Eland special is its energy-storage capacity. Besides generating some 400 megawatts of power, it is designed to store up to 1,200 megawatt-hours of electricity when it opens in 2023, according to 8minute Solar.

Also extraordinary is its cost: Eland is said to offer the lowest combined solar and storage prices anywhere.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/massive-solar-project-years-in-the-making-debuts-in-eastern/article_50683350-0735-11ea-b562-df2a68bf6796.html

How a massive Amazon wind farm promises to change a tiny town in rural America

KEY POINTS
  • Amazon announced three new wind farm projects in April 2019 as part of their goal to become net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • Large wind and solar farms create economic booms for rural communities.
  • Even after an initial construction boom, there is room for business growth.
H-O_WindPowerinTehachapi
The Tehachapi Mountain Range is home to around 4,731 wind turbines that generate about 3,200 megawatts of energy.
City of Tehachapi

Buried in the mountains of southern California lies a field of white. It’s not your typical farm: It produces renewable energy. The Tehachapi Pass is home to one of the largest wind farms in the world. Now a huge tech company is bringing more turbines to the area, and it is going to have an impact on a nearby community.

In April, Amazon announced three new wind farm projects — two overseas, and one in the Tehachapi (teh-HATCH-ah-pee) Mountains, located in southern California. The farms will help contribute to Amazon’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and 100% renewables by 2030.

The mountain range is a hub for the wind industry, with around 4,731 turbines that produce about 3,200 megawatts of electricity along the mountain range, according to the Center for Land Use Interpretation, with private companies flocking to the area because of the high wind speeds. Farther north is the Altamont Pass wind farm, which helps power another tech giant: Alphabet’s Google.

Located just northeast of the mountain range is the town of Tehachapi. With a population of about 12,000, Tehachapi Mayor Pro-Tem Phil Smith called it a nice little mountain town, and while the power being produced from wind only comes to the town indirectly through the grid, Tehachapi gets something else directly as a result of the big renewable energy investments.

“The good news for us is obviously we have the economic impact,” said Tehachapi economic development coordinator Corey Costelloe.

Outside contractors come in to work on the wind turbines, staying in the town’s hotels and eating at its restaurants, like Kohnen’s Country Bakery, one of the town’s more popular local eateries. Family owned by Colleen and Thomas Kohnen, the bakery has been around since 2004. Colleen says the bakery is growing, but it’s hard to tell how much of that is because of the wind industry. Though she says that she does get customers who come from out of the city to work on the windmills.

“I had one guy come in last week, and I guess he was staying in a hotel during the week or something,” Khonen said. “And his wife and daughter came up to visit him. That just introduces people (to the bakery).”

Stephen Abbott, city renewables accelerator manager at Rocky Mountain Institute, says that small businesses seeing an increase in revenue is part of the initial economic boom that follows a renewable energy farm.

Keeping jobs local

According to estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the construction of a 47 megawatt (the size of Amazon’s new farm) renewable energy farm could produce around 50 new jobs.

One company wants to keep those jobs in Tehachapi.

World Wind and Solar is a renewable energy maintenance company that moved its headquarters to Tehachapi in 2019.

WWS CEO Buddy Cummings has deep ties to Tehachapi. His father, Steve Cummings, installed some of the first wind turbines in the town. Cummings feels moving the company to Tehachapi is a homecoming of sorts.

“The relationships that got us into the renewables market are the relationships we grew up with,” Cummings said. “Tehachapi just feels like home.”

WWS has a goal of keeping their work local. Cummings says that he tries to hire Tehachapi residents, and use word of mouth marketing.

“We grow by people telling their friends and family,” Cummings said.

The company, which started in wind but has diversified into solar, requires workers to do general labor maintaining solar panels — cleaning and upkeep. The company hires workers to do that work for 60 to 90 days, and if they perform well, the company brings them back to Tehachapi for two to three weeks of training, teaching them how to do more technical maintenance on wind turbines and solar arrays. After the training they can become full-time technicians.

“It’s a quick and healthy way to get people work,” Cummings said. “It has such an opportunity to grow a career so fast.”

The workers coming in to train are spending their dollars at local businesses, like Kohnen’s Bakery, which cited the World Wind and Solar training period as a profitable time because the renewable energy company recommends it to trainees.

“The wind farms have generated quite a number of very good technical, good-paying jobs that can sustain a family and the employers have benefits,” Mayor Pro-Tem Smith said. “So the people in the workforce can look forward to actually a career in the industry if they want, and the pay is good enough where they can afford a home and stay here.”

Wind turbine technicians are making just over $54,000 a year ($26.14 per hour), according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. It forecast employment growth of 57% for wind turbine technicians from 2018 to 2028. In 2018, there were 6,600 wind turbine technician jobs in the U.S., according to BLS data.

api isn’t the only area that has seen an economic updraft from the wind industry.

Benton County, Indiana (pop. 8,700) has multiple wind projects developed over the past decade, one operated by Pattern Energy which supports electricity needs for an Amazon Web Services data center. The AWS farm, its first major renewables project, went into operation in early 2016, and Paul Jackson, director of economic development for Benton County says the area has seen gradual growth after big, initial booms from its wind farm projects.

“Everything kind of flattens out,” Jackson said. “The big boom is over, and you get into the reality of it.”

The Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project is expected to make $5 million in economic development payments to Benton County over a period of 17 years. The project is entitled to 100% property tax abatements for a 10-year period, after which property tax revenue for the county will start being generated as well.

“Once wind farms came off of abatement, we are getting tax dollars. The tax money is fantastic,” Jackson said.

Between 2008 and 2018, taxes on Benton County wind farms have permitted the county to allocate an additional $3 million to schools, additional money to medical services, $35 million to new roads — upgraded roads were required to transport giant wind turbines to sites — and a total of $31 million in economic development payments to be made to the county through 2038.

A September article from the Wall Street Journal highlighted that farmers in the U.S. are leasing land out for renewable energy farms to help themselves in a difficult financial time.

“I think one thing we shouldn’t lose sight of is that a lot of farmers in the middle of the country are relatively strapped economically,” Abbott said. “Wind or solar can be a really useful additional revenue stream for people and those communities, particularly if it helps them get through a particular commodity down cycle.”

Facebook’s solar power projects

Big corporations want to build on cheaper land in rural areas and that, in turn, can help these rural economies from regressing to the mean by attracting follow-up projects.

Los Lunas, New Mexico is a good example.

The village has a population of roughly 15,000 people, and will soon be home to a Facebook data center, as well as solar farms to power it. The solar farm was an additional project that will help Facebook reach its goal of making the data center 100% renewable. Data center’s like this one and Amazon’s in Benton County are energy-intensive operations.

Both Las Lunas projects are in the construction phase, and are slated to be finished in 2023. Los Lunas economic development manager Ralph Mims says that the construction has helped workers, who previously had to work out of state, find jobs in the area. Much like Tehachapi, the village has seen a similar economic impact from big tech coming in.

“Since Facebook announced, we’ve got an uptick in our retail footprint,” Mims said. “We’ve had new restaurants come in, we have a third McDonald’s.”

Los Lunas also has several new housing projects that are in the works, but Mims believes that is because of natural growth, not only because of Facebook.

“Facebook of course has helped, but I would say that it’s a natural occurrence.” Mims said. “People want to live in a smaller town, taxes are cheaper down here, housing is super close to Albuquerque, we are about 10-15 minutes from the airport.”

Mims said that other companies currently operating under “code names” have inquired about land in the area, citing low costs and favorable weather conditions as reasons for likely future projects.

Abbott said there is little if any economic downside for smaller communities, like Tehachapi and Benton County, getting into the renewable energy business.

“Wind and solar provide a really important additional value and way to maintain the communities that are struggling in rural America, and have the potential to bring technical jobs and new sources of revenue and income to help support these communities during the energy transition.