Des Moines, Iowa, May 21, 2012 – MidAmerican Solar and First Solar, Inc. marked a milestone at Topaz Solar Farms, located in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. The first solar panel was installed at the solar farm, which will include nearly 9 million photovoltaic panels and generate 550 MW when complete.
The first solar panel was installed by Greg Abel, chairman, president and CEO of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., and Walter Scott, Jr., who serves on the boards of directors for Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and MidAmerican.
On May 3, MidAmerican Solar and First Solar held a ceremony at the project site to discuss the project’s construction schedule, environmental values and community-centered plans for the future with local and state leaders and landowners.
The Topaz project will create about 400 construction jobs during its three-year construction period; will generate nearly $417 million in local economic impact, the majority of which will be generated during construction; and will provide California with renewable electricity. The Topaz project will provide enough energy to power about 160,000 average California homes.
The Topaz project is owned by MidAmerican Solar and will be constructed, operated and maintained by First Solar. Construction began in late 2011 and is expected to be complete by early 2015. PG&E will purchase the electricity from the Topaz project under a 25-year power purchase agreement, helping California meet its mandate to generate 33 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.
First Solar’s advanced thin-film PV modules generate electricity with no emissions, waste or water use and its systems have the smallest carbon footprint of any PV technology. Each module is about 4 feet by 2 feet and weighs 27.5 pounds.
Electricity generated by the Topaz project will displace about 377,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year – the equivalent of taking about 73,000 cars off the road. First Solar’s pre-funded collection and recycling program provides a responsible end of life for the PV panels. More than 90 percent of the material is re-used.