A new power purchase agreement between Pacific Gas & Electric and North Star Solar could lead to a second solar project in Mendota, a West Fresno County community struggling with high joblessness.
North Star says in this press release that the plant, which could be in operation by mid-2013, would generate 60 megawatts of power, enough to power 30,000 to 60,000 houses. The project, which is still subject to regulatory and financing approvals, would be the second solar project in the Mendota area behind a 5-megawatt, 50-acre plant run by Meridian Energy.
Mendota's unemployment rate is nearly 40%, and some experts think renewable energy, especially solar, could be a way to create jobs in the sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley. A professor at University of California, Merced, reported that renewable-energy and high-speed rail projects proposed for the Valley could produce 100,000 jobs if constructed.
The majority of those would be energy related. Dr. Shawn Cantor studied approved and proposed biomass, hydrogen, solar and wind projects, concluding that up to 79,512 construction jobs are possible over the next decade. That does not include payrolls created from smaller-scale projects on houses and buildings.
Photo of Meridian project in Mendota.