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home : opinions : letters November 20, 2014

7/12/2013 6:00:00 AM
Powering the future brings economic benefits to Blythe
Rob Holt
Rob Holt
By Rob Holt
The Holt Group

I have called Blythe my home while managing The Holt Group's Blythe office for the past 20 years. It's exciting to see the positive economic impacts coming from the two major solar facilities under construction in our region, the Genesis and Desert Sunlight Solar Energy Projects.

I currently serve as the resident engineer for the Genesis Solar Energy Project, located about 20 miles west of Blythe. My company is one of many that is working on, and benefitting from, this project.

Approximately 1,000 workers are currently onsite at Genesis helping to construct this power generation facility. Half of the facility's 250 megawatts will start bringing power to the grid this fall - at a time when the state's energy supplies have been cut by the closing of the San Onofre nuclear facility. Solar projects are not only helping meet statewide energy needs; they are also helping California lead the nation in renewable energy.

NextEra, along with two other companies, owns the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, which is being constructed by First Solar just north of Desert Center. When it is completed in early 2015, this 550-megawatt photovoltaic facility will be one of the largest in the world. In addition to bringing much-needed clean energy to the grid, solar projects are bringing jobs and injecting money into communities and trades that were hit hard by the recession.

In Blythe, early every morning local workers board busses outside the Palo Verde Valley Times offices to get to Desert Sunlight, which employs about 630 workers.

In addition to the jobs that these projects have brought to our community, Blythe businesses are seeing positive impacts. Restaurants deliver meals to sites, and numerous local companies supply the projects with goods and services for everything from sanitation services to building supplies.

Additionally, project workers that come from out of the area often require local housing or stay in Blythe hotels and spend their money locally on food, clothing, gas and recreation. Projects also pay fees and taxes that help improve local services.

I am proud to be a Blythe business owner and provide jobs in the budding solar industry. I have been able to grow my company and currently employ nine local residents, keeping more money in our local economy.

A majority of the project workers are from Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Blythe alone has about 100 employees working on Genesis and Desert Sunlight, more than any other city. Combined these projects will require 55 full-time permanent employees. Blythe's future is bright with prospects for an economy supported, in part, by solar energy.

On the horizon is NextEra's McCoy Solar Energy Project, a 250-megawatt facility that has completed its federal permitting and is now going through Riverside County's permitting process. McCoy will be located about six miles north of the Blythe airport and is expected to start construction in late 2014, wrap up in late 2016, and bring more jobs and economic benefits to Blythe.

Our community should be engaged as projects surrounding Blythe are evaluated. Although some solar projects have become little more than a memory, the projects that are sited and developed responsibly by reputable companies should have our support in order to help move them forward to construction. These projects not only benefit Blythe, but will also increase energy independence and source diversity for years to come.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

People you are going to hate me. There is a Article that I read this morning.

California Energy Commission: Solar Facility Raises Environmental Concerns
9 hrs ago | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: The Heartland Institute.

Please read it. Another road block for our community.

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Article comment by: Crazy Town

@james morales The company that hires for First Solar is CLP. If you google it I believe you can get some information. This project (Desert Center) will be completed sometime next year and then they will start another closer to town. Good Luck!

Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Article comment by: james morales

I have been reading up on this solar farm for quite some time but cannot find where to apply at I am a lead PV installer at my job I currently have and I am wanting to relocate back to Blythe for family reason but I won't relocate unless I have a job out there and I would really appreciate the help and information anybody has as to where I can apply for this solar plant if anybody has any information can you contact me by email jamesmorales1987@gmail thank you

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013
Article comment by: Peace Be Still

Good job!

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Article comment by: Crazy Town

This could be a great opportunity for Blythe.

Go First Solar!

Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Palermo

Hasn't the McCoy project been scaled down? It seems like just a few months ago the CEC decided the PPA was over priced. So, now it looks like the project will have a PPA for one third of the projected project energy generation. Once you've gone from a generation source like concentrated solar generation with some kind of heat storage facility, then it is only a peak source of power generation. The site can't be used as a baseload or a spinning source of power. If you're going to install enough solar PV in remote areas to power 300,000 homes, then just put a 6KW peak solar PV array on 300,000 roofs. The power is used where it is generated, there are no line and step up and step down transformer losses intrinsic with "shipping" the product to market. Without some kind of large scale utility power storage, sources like wind and solar PV are better used where they are generated rather than sent to market over power corridors. Edison and PG&E know this, so do investors. The FTC for solar is only 2 years away. If this dries up so will the call for large solar PV installations. As of right now there seems to be a problem getting Utilities like Edison and PG&E to sign new PPAs. This is not the field of dreams, if you build it, you might not have a PPA or a place to sell the product.

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