By this time next year, a 49-acre site leased by Chevron Richmond will be home to 80,000 ground-mounted solar panels with the ability to power about 3,400 homes, all while creating more than 100 jobs for local residents, according to project officials.
The 10.5 megawatt Solar One project was celebrated at a news conference and demonstration Wednesday morning at the field where the panels will be located at Castro and Hensley streets. Construction is expected to begin in February and be completed late next year.
The farm will be the largest publicly-owned solar project in the Bay Area and half of the jobs created by it are mandated to be assumed by local residents. Job recruits will largely come from free local career training programs such as RichmondBUILD.
The project is estimated to eliminate nearly 10,000 metric tons of CO2 per year for the next 25-years, equivalent to removing 2,081 cars from the road for each year of operation, project officials said.
Creation of the solar farm is part of the community benefits agreement reached between the city and Chevron in connection with the $1 billion Refinery Modernization Project. Chevron leased the former, underutilized brownfield site to Marin Clean Energy (MCE) for 25 years at an extremely low rate, with a five-year extension option. MCE is a nonprofit, public power agency that partners with Pacific Gas & Elecrtic Co. to provide renewable energy to customers, including in Richmond.
Mayor Tom Butt, who recently returned from the climate talks in Paris, praised the project as a “win, win, win” for creating clean, renewable energy while benefiting all partners and the community.
“The Solar One project has established a unique partnership between Chevron, the City of Richmond, Marin Clean Energy and other partners that shows how public-private partnerships can open up a world of possibilities and opportunity,” said Jeff Hartwig, project manager for the Chevron Richmond Refinery Modernization Project.
The upcoming $1 billion modernization project, meanwhile, is set to replace 1960s technology at the plant with a modern version that is inherently safer and more energy efficient. The project will also employ about 1,000 construction jobs and 1,300 indirect jobs. Of the $90 million that Chevron will contribute to the city of Richmond as part of the community benefits agreement, nearly half is aimed at reducing local greenhouse emissions.
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