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On April 25, 2017, representatives from the City of Temecula and other project partners participated in the ground breaking ceremony for the solar power generating facility that is being constructed by SMER Research 1, LLC, under a ground lease with San Diego State University, the owner of the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve. Electricity will be generated by the collection of sunlight onto an array of ground mounted photovoltaic cells on land known as the “Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve SOLAR Initiative Research Site.”
In late 2016, the City of Temecula approved a Solar Power Purchase Agreement with SMER Research 1, LLC, which will enable the City to purchase electrical power for various City facilities from the solar power generating facility. The cost of the electricity from this solar power generating facility to the City will initially be approximately 10% less than the cost of electricity available to the City from Southern California Edison Company. As electricity rates increase over time the savings to the City will increase correspondingly.
Sufficient electricity will be generated to serve several of the City of Temecula’s facilities. The photovoltaic cells are similar to those now being used in home solar energy systems. The project is being constructed in coordination with Southern California Edison Company in accordance with programs established by the California Public Utilities Commission.
In addition to the public benefits of lower electricity rates and obtaining electricity from a renewable source of power, SMER Research 1 and San Diego State University have agreed to conduct substantial academic research projects at the solar power generating facility site that will study solar radiation, solar energy, soils, and other meteorological and geotechnical data as well as habitat and habitat restoration.
Former California Lt. Governor, Cruz Bustamante, current CEO of Go Green Consultants, the firm responsible for bringing the project team together, remarked “This project is a win-win-win-win, in that it is a win for the City of Temecula who will realize savings through lower energy costs, a win for the environment by creatively using renewable energy, a win for the SMER as the project will clear a grove of eucalyptus trees which are a non-native invasive species, and a win for San Diego State University as the project also funds a 20-year research project studying the impacts of the solar array on the native habitat.”
City of Temecula Mayor Pro-Tem Matt Rahn commented that in addition to the environmental and habitat research benefits, the project also eliminates a significant wild land fire fuel source. He shared that the research will address important issues including initial attack effectiveness for wildfires, watershed management, and how renewable energy can be produced in a compatible way with ecosystems and habitat.
Project Team consists of:
Power Purchaser: City of Temecula
Property Owner: San Diego State University
Developer: BioStar Renewables, LLC
Co-Developer: Go Green Consultants, LLC/Photogenesis Energy, LLC
EPC: BioStar Solar, LLC/E Light Electric Inc.
Financing Provided By: BioStar Renewables, LLC.
Construction Manager: Spectrum Energy Development Inc.
Project Consultant: Aaron Reed & Associates LLC
Pictured from left to right: Andy Stancati, David Burt, Joel Huppe, Tag Taylor, Pat Agnello, Lee Ullman, Paul Galindo, Cruz Bustamante, [not listed], Matt Rahn, Greg Butler, [not listed]