SOLAR+STORAGE

CIM Group Celebrates Completion and Commercial Operation of Aquamarine, 250-Megawatt Solar Photovoltaic Project within Westlands Solar Park

CIM Group | February 02, 2022

CIM Group welcomed government, labor, business, and civic leaders at a celebratory event commemorating the completion and operation of Aquamarine, the 250-megawatt project within the 20,000-acre Westlands Solar Park (WSP). Guests were hosted on-site amidst Aquamarine’s rows of solar panels and the project’s impressive substation. Addressing the attendees were Wade Crowfoot, California’s Natural Resources Secretary; Avi Shemesh, Co-Founder and Principal, CIM Group; George Hershman, CEO of SOLV Energy; and Ronny Jungk, business manager and financial secretary, IBEW Local 100.

Aquamarine is the first utility-scale solar project within WSP. Construction of Aquamarine began in 2020 and concluded at year-end 2021, on time and on budget, at which time it began contributing renewable energy to the California grid. WSP is one of the largest permitted solar parks in the United States, 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.

“California is blazing a path forward toward 100 percent carbon-free energy generation by 2045,” said California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “Aquamarine and the next projects will help us get there.”

The master-planned Westlands Solar Park encompasses more than 20,000 acres in California’s San Joaquin Valley in western Fresno and Kings Counties and is designed to be developed as multiple projects to meet the needs of public and private utilities, businesses and other energy consumers. CIM Group anticipates commencing construction of additional solar projects within WSP in 2022.

Westlands is an incredible project that's creating good union jobs, driving local wages and developing a skilled workforce to power the green energy economy. Together with innovative leaders like CIM Group, we look forward to working toward smart solutions to our climate and energy crises. Congratulations to all partners involved in making the first stage of this landmark facility a success."

George Hershman, CEO of SOLV Energy and Board Chair of Solar Energy Industry Association

Construction of Aquamarine created approximately 500 construction jobs, employing workers from throughout Kings County as well as the nearby communities of Fresno, Tulare and Madera. Many workers benefited from an apprenticeship program provided by IBEW Local 100 with graduates trained in the skills necessary for a career in solar and clean energy development.

“The Aquamarine project employed many apprentices and graduates of the IBEW’s apprenticeship program that has educated and trained scores of workers, setting them on a career path in the growing solar energy industry. The IBEW Local 100 provided 307 electrical workers to Aquamarine, 128 of which were Kings County residents, benefiting the workers, the community and the local economy,” said Ronny Jungk, business manager and financial secretary, IBEW Local 100.

Aquamarine is now generating power for the California grid and delivering on its previously executed Power Purchase Agreements including with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for renewable energy credits associated with 75 megawatts of capacity, a 50-megawatt contract with Valley Clean Energy Alliance, and with the City of Santa Clara, CA (Silicon Valley Power) for renewable energy credits associated with 75 megawatts of capacity. CIM Group is currently negotiating additional PPAs with other potential counterparties for Aquamarine and future projects within WSP.

“CIM Group’s commitment to becoming a resource for renewable energy, such as at Aquamarine and the future projects within Westlands Solar Park, aligns with our company’s overarching directive, to meet the needs of communities. We anticipate that approximately $3 billion will be invested in developing projects within Westlands Solar Park as we complete build out, continuing the creation of clean energy construction jobs, economic development throughout the region and contributing renewable energy to meet California’s clean energy goals,” said Avi Shemesh, Co-Founder and Principal, CIM Group.

WSP benefits from an alignment of interest among disparate groups, farming, environmental, labor, the Westlands Water District, the State of California and the federal government, all of which support the development. WSP has a completed and certified programmatic environmental impact report for the entire project, positioning it to permit and move forward on projects within WSP. Further, 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.

WSP and environmental sustainability
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 particulate 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.

CIM Group infrastructure and sustainable investment
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. 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.

About CIM Group
CIM is a community-focused real estate and infrastructure owner, operator, lender and developer. Since 1994, CIM has sought to create value in projects and positively impact the lives of people in communities across the Americas by delivering more than $60 billion of essential real estate and infrastructure projects. CIM’s diverse team of experts applies its broad knowledge and disciplined approach through hands-on management of real assets from due diligence to operations through disposition. CIM strives to make a meaningful difference in the world by executing key environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and enhancing each community in which it invests.

Spotlight

In 2017, 70% of net new global power generating capacity came from renewable energy. Renewable energy now comprises over 10% of global total final energy consumption. Based on most projections, renewables will continue their swift increase over the next decade as an important source of energy, replacing fossil fuels, nuclear and other traditional sources of energy.

Spotlight

In 2017, 70% of net new global power generating capacity came from renewable energy. Renewable energy now comprises over 10% of global total final energy consumption. Based on most projections, renewables will continue their swift increase over the next decade as an important source of energy, replacing fossil fuels, nuclear and other traditional sources of energy.

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