MidAmerican and First Solar have announced the beginning of major construction work on the site of the 550MW Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo County, California. Both companies congregated about the construction schedule as well as environmental issues and future plans to involve communities and private landowners in the project.

“The Topaz project will benefit the environment and the local economy,” said Paul Caudill, president of MidAmerican Solar. “A project of this size creates jobs and plays a major role in our nation’s long-term electric energy supply. We are excited to be a part of the local San Luis Obispo community, and we look forward to having a major presence with stakeholders now and in the future. In addition to providing clean energy and jobs, we’re committed to working hand-in-hand with stakeholders to demonstrate how large-scale solar projects and geographies, such as the Carrizo Plain, can co-exist and benefit native biological species.”

MidAmerican owns the 550MW plant while First Solar is responsible for construction, maintenance and operation once completed. The generated energy will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric under a 25-year PPA.  Initial construction began in November 2011, with the project being estimated to be completed early in 2015.  

First Solar’s senior vice president Jim Lamon, commented on the event: “First Solar is pleased to be working on the Topaz project and other PV solar projects with MidAmerican Solar. Utility-scale PV projects like Topaz are the quickest and most cost-effective way to bring significant solar power to the grid.”