California Opens World's Biggest Solar Power Plant

Interior secretary celebrates Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2015 8:37 AM CST
California Opens World's Biggest Solar Power Plant
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, left, tours the more than 6 square miles of the plant during the power-on ceremony at Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in Desert Center, Calif., Feb. 9, 2015.   (AP Photo/The Press-Enterprise, Terry Pierson)

Planet Earth's biggest solar power plant opened for business yesterday right here on American soil, the Desert Sun reports, with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on-site in California's Riverside County to mark the opening of the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm. The plant, which boasts 550 megawatts of power and is spread across some 4,000 acres of federal land, can support 160,000 homes. The plant should help California reach a goal of running on 33% renewable energy by 2020; Gov. Jerry Brown has called for the figure to reach 50% by 2050, the AP reports.

It appears to be a success for the Obama administration, which took heat over the $535 million Solyndra debacle. But now, says a county official, "the debate's over—we're going to be moving to more renewable energy." Desert Sunlight, built on a $1.5 billion federal loan guarantee, is among five major federally funded solar farms through which the US expects to bring in a $5 billion to $6 billion profit. "They're all rock-solid, money is good, living up to every kind of condition we put in the loan documents in terms of performance, in terms of commercial operation," says a Department of Energy rep. (Read more California stories.)

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