Pioneer Solar begins power production

IREA’s utility-scale Pioneer Solar facility began power production in December and is expected to reach full operating capacity this month.

The facility sits on 540 acres near Bennett. It will generate 80 megawatts of power that will be utilized on IREA’s system for at least the next decade. Under the terms of the power purchase agreement (PPA) between IREA and the facility’s developer, Idemitsu Renewables, energy produced by the facility is purchased by IREA at a fixed rate below our avoided cost, which is what the association would otherwise pay for the same amount of energy from other sources. That price is locked in for the first 10 years, with several options to extend the PPA beyond that.

Pioneer Solar includes more than 230,000 photovoltaic panels with single-axis tracking, which allows them to follow the path of the sun and increase solar exposure. The project was approved by IREA’s board of directors in May 2018. Construction of the switchyard, solar field and accompanying substation took just over a year.

Pioneer Solar is IREA’s second utility-scale solar investment. Our 12.8-megawatt Victory Solar facility began production in early 2017. IREA’s board of directors has approved additional projects that will bring our renewable energy capacity to nearly 200 megawatts by the end of this year.

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