Solar project lights up in San Joaquin Valley town

The first solar farm to fire up on the struggling west side of the central San Joaquin Valley is near Mendota, a community with a high unemployment rate and a desire to diversify its economy, The Fresno Bee's Tim Sheehan reports.

The CalRENEW-1 plant will produce 5 megawatts of power - enough for at least 2,500 homes - that is sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The facility, erected on 50 acres, took nine months to build. Cleantech America was the developer.

At least 12 solar projects are proposed for the west side of the Valley - where high jobless rates, lots of flat vacant land and agreeable civic leaders - but The Bee says the Cleantech farm is the first to become operational.

An important component is the collaboration with West Hills College and school districts in Mendota, Firebaugh and San Joaquin. Together, they developed a training program for 65 people to work in the solar industry.

Here's The Fresno Bee's story on the project.

Experts say ample sun resources, high energy bills and low incomes make the inland portion of California an ideal spot to locate solar projects, in addition to other forms of alternative and clean energy.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a non-profit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.