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Meridian commissions US solar power plant

Meridian commissions US solar power plant

Meridian Energy has commissioned its first solar power plant, with its US subsidiary’s five megawatts (MW) CalRENEW-1 facility connected to the California electric grid.

Meridian chief executive Tim Lusk says emission-free electricity from the plant is being sold under a long-term power purchase agreement to local utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), which has confirmed the station’s Commercial Operation status.

“We are delighted to see the CalRENEW-1 project delivering clean, renewable power into the California market” said Mr. Lusk.

Meridian purchased California-based Cleantech America last August and has been funding its growth and expansion in addition to the construction of CalRENEW-1.

CalRENEW-1 is a 5 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Mendota California, covering almost 50 acres and using more than 50,000 individual solar panels. The project was completed by Meridian subsidiary Cleantech America using solar panels purchased from Sharp Electronics Corporation and construction undertaken by a subsidiary of Quanta Services. The project was delivered under budget and in time for the Californian summer where CalRENEW-1’s will provide critical additional generation resources during peak periods of energy use.

CalRENEW-1 is the first utility-scale PV solar project to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards programme, and is also the first PV solar power station to be connected to the grid of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

Meridian staff have been heavily involved with the Cleantech America team in the project throughout construction and commissioning, and Mr Lusk says it was important for the company to maximize the unique development opportunities that are available from working through its first solar project from start to finish.

Meridian’s international solar programme is being led by Guy Waipara, who describes the commissioning of the plant as a major milestone in the company’s programme to explore solar power.

“Our team has learned a lot from this project and they are already putting their new capabilities to good use in opportunities we are exploring closer to home,” says Mr Waipara.

Mr Waipara says Meridian is exploring solar opportunities in the Pacific Islands, where power systems are dominated by expensive diesel generation, against which solar already represents an economically attractive option.

“The experience we gain from this involvement in the US will assist enormously with the options we are exploring in the Pacific and Australia, and ultimately of course we will be bringing the technology to the New Zealand market.”

“The experience we are gaining in California is an important step towards this.”

Meridian is now using its US solar operation as a platform to leverage its renewable energy credentials and develop the other US-based solar opportunities that were acquired with the purchase of Cleantech America.


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