Construction Begins on Largest Community Solar Project for Low-Income Residents in California
Construction has begun on the Fresno Disadvantaged Community (DAC) Solar Farm, the largest shared solar project for disadvantaged communities in California and the first utility-scale solar farm within Fresno. The 10 MW system will provide energy cost savings directly to qualifying low-income residents under PG&E's Disadvantaged Communities Green Tariff (DAC-GT) Program. The project was made possible by close collaboration between White Pine Renewables and the City of Fresno.
Located in Council District 3, "The Fresno DAC Community Solar Farm is the perfect case study of ensuring equity in the new green economy through public-private partnerships that benefit all Fresno residents. In short, it's the type of solar development where everyone wins," commented Council Member Miguel Arias.
Qualified low-income residents of Fresno will save 20% on their energy bills when subscribed to the Fresno DAC Community Solar Farm. PG&E automatically subscribes qualifying customers.
The solar power plant is located on an underutilized 76-acre parcel owned by the City of Fresno. City revenues from the parcel are expected to increase due to higher rents from the solar facility's operators.
In tandem with the groundbreaking, the project, initiated by former city councilmember Larry Westerlund, with project owner AB CarVal and project developer White Pine Renewables partnering with GRID Alternatives, a solar non-profit, provided a free solar installation training course and jobs fair to local low-income jobseekers, some of whom live in Southwest Fresno.
"AB CarVal and White Pine proved their commitment to inclusive solar workforce development as the key partner for our recent training in Fresno," commented Karina Gonzalez, Co-Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Central Valley. "Their team advocated for our program's graduates as they sought employment, and job placements have far exceeded our expectations as a result."
Nearly 70% of the participants in GRID's program have already secured jobs with AB CarVal and White Pine's regional installation subcontractors and other local solar companies. Several graduates are now employed at the Fresno DAC Community Solar Farm, where all workers receive a local prevailing wage.
"We are tremendously grateful to our many partners for their support and creativity in this deeply collaborative, multi-faceted initiative," said Evan Riley, Co-Founder of White Pine Renewables. "The Fresno DAC Community Solar Farm is the first project of its kind in California, but it will not be the last. Our collective success has yielded a blueprint for White Pine to develop equitable utility-scale community solar projects across the state."
Operations at the Fresno DAC Community Solar Farm are expected to begin by the end of 2023. Once complete, the system will contain more than 25,000 solar panels which will produce enough energy to power approximately 2,700 homes.