Crews have finished construction of the California Valley Solar Ranch, a 250 megawatt (MW) capacity plant near San Luis Obispo, California, that is now the biggest operating solar generator in the state. It was built by SunPower and will be run by NRG, producing enough electricity to power 50,000 homes.

The facility covers 4,700 acres, although only about 1,500 of that is actually covered by panels and buildings. The remaining 3,200 are being set aside for permanent conservation, as a concession made to environmental advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club who had be concerned that the plant would be invasive and a hazard to local wildlife.

EarthTechling, a clean technology news site, reports that this will be the largest such facility in the state, but only for a short time. There are currently plans for a 550 MW capacity plant to be built in the Central Valley, as well as a 579 MW project in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles.

Now that California lawmakers have enacted legislation to raise the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 33 percent, thus requiring utilities to derive a third of their energy from clean sources, there is a stronger imperative for these companies to develop large scale plants like the California Valley project. But you don’t have to wait for your electricity company to start building solar plants to take advantage of this fabulous technology. A rooftop PV system powered by California solar energy will reduce your utility bills and help improve the environment. Contact West Coast Solar for more information.