Scout Clean Energy and Peninsula Clean Energy have signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) that will provide San Mateo County and City of Los Banos customers with 76.35 MW from the repowering of the Pacheco Pass Wind Farm in Merced County, Calif.
Purchased from International Turbine Research in 2018, Scout returned the wind farm in Pacheco State Park to the current level of operation and will now rechristen the project the Gonzaga Ridge Wind Farm LLC (GRWF).
“We are excited to expand our partnership with Peninsula Clean Energy and the opportunity to continue to supply clean, renewable power to the customers of San Mateo County and Los Banos in Merced County while we complete our upgrade plans to the Gonzaga Ridge Wind facility,” states Michael Rucker, CEO and founder of Scout Clean Energy. “In addition, we will continue to generate royalty revenues for the California Department of Parks and Recreation to help fund the operations of the park.”
“The Gonzaga Ridge project is an important tool in Peninsula Clean Energy’s efforts to provide 24/7 renewable power, with the added bonus of being located near our new Los Banos service territory,” mentions Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Jan Pepper. “It is also a great example of how state-of-the-art wind farms have become far more efficient and powerful in providing clean and affordable energy across our territories during both peak and non-peak hours.”
Construction, which will begin in late 2023, will also utilize a labor agreement between contractors and national unions. The project will replace the existing 162-turbine wind farm in Pacheco State Park, originally built nearly four decades ago, with a much-smaller fleet of far more powerful state-of-the-art turbines that are expected to be operational by around the end of October 2024.
While the existing 162 turbines produce up to 18.4 MW, Scout is planning a total GRWF capacity of 147.5 MW of wind energy and a 50 MW four-hour battery energy storage system. The completed project upgrades would be one of the first repower projects on state land in California. Upon reaching commercial operations, GRWF will provide around 350,000 MWh of carbon-free, renewable electricity to the California grid each year, enough to power around 44,000 homes.
“The increase in renewable energy generated from this overall project helps demonstrate the potential for more of these type projects in the future,” adds Rucker. “With some of the aging infrastructure, especially in California, we hope this serves as an example for repowering projects across the country.”
In 1992, 6,900-acres of former ranchland located along the south side of Pacheco Pass was bequeathed by the former owner, Paula Fatjo, to California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR). Prior to her death in 1992, Fatjo agreed to a 25-year lease to allow up to 200 wind turbines to be installed across the ridgelines in the eastern portion of the current park to harvest and transform wind funneled through the pass into electrical energy.
A key component of Fatjo’s bequest is that all income which may accrue to CDPR from the wind project is to be used for the operations and development of the park and shall not be used in the state’s general fund. The land, and the operating facility, were bequeathed to the state in 1997, with revenues from the facility supporting the operations of what became Pacheco State Park.
Peninsula Clean Energy is a community choice aggregator (CCA) serving customers in San Mateo County, and will also begin service in April 2022 to Los Banos in Merced County. CCAs are locally controlled community organizations that enable local residents and businesses to choose how their energy is sourced. Gonzaga Ridge is being developed, owned and operated by Scout Clean Energy.
Scout is a portfolio company of Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a private equity infrastructure fund.