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.