In a move that is supposed to help California’s Imperial Irrigation District (IID) renovate its power network, 8minutenergy Renewables and Gestamp Solar have signed a generation interconnection agreement (GIA) with IID for 355MW of utility-scale PV power. The two companies will develop five projects, which combined will total 355MW, all of which have completed IID’s Transitional Cluster Phase I and Facility Study phases marking them ready for construction.

“As of today, less than ten percent of all renewable energy projects in the state’s pipeline have attained a GIA,” added Tom Buttgenbach, president of 8minutenergy.  “This agreement confirms the validity of our approach, and further cements the viability of 8minutenergy’s portfolio.”

Aside from upgrading IID’s power network, the solar projects are expected to bring California’s Imperial Valley new jobs and revenues. 8minutenergy maintains that the 12 total solar farms that it will complete in the region will potentially create 240 new jobs in the area and US$2.3 billion in total economic output.

The first of the five utility-scale projects to be developed by 8minutenergy and Gestamp Solar is the Chocolate Mountains Solar Farm. The 50MW utility-scale PV project is anticipated to reach its commercial operation date in the next 15 months. Construction, commissioning and synchronizing, so that energy can begin to be delivered to the grid, are projected for completion in Q4 2012 or early 2013.

8minutenergy advised that it has built a large-scale preconstruction development team that focuses solely on the utility-scale PV projects in California. The 50-person team is tasked with covering everything in the preconstruction development of the PV projects, including power grid analysis, land site selection and development and the selection of technologies for engineering.

“The approval of GIAs is an important milestone for 8minutenergy, Imperial County and the state of California,” said Martin Hermann, CEO of 8minutenergy.  “This agreement represents two years of effort by our team, our partner Gestamp Solar, and many other parties…”