The last panels have been installed on the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR), a 250 megawatt (MW) solar energy generating plant in East San Luis Obispo County, California. The facility awaits commissioning from the California Public Utilities Commission, but once it is, it will be the largest solar power plant in the state, helping California meet its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 33 percent by 2020.
The CVSR will pump enough electricity into the grid to power 100,000 homes, roughly the size of the city of San Luis Obispo, which sits on the central California coast. According to the plant's website, it will also help offset the production of 333,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year.
It's currently the biggest photovoltaic solar station in the country, but that will change soon as there are plans to build a 550 MW capacity plant in the Carrizo Plain, in nearby central California.
In addition to providing residents with clean energy, the plant also serves as a permanent conservation ground for many different species. The entire facility covers 4,700 acres, but of that only 1,500 are actually covered by panels. Instead, about 3,200 acres have been set aside to protect endangered species and habitats, as a concession to environmental groups that were concerned the plant could adversely effect local wildlife.
It is also estimated that the CVSR will pump $315 million of into the local economy throughout its construction and operation, creating jobs and helping support local businesses.