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Gov. Jerry Brown to build world's largest solar plant in Inland Empire

June 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's encouraging news on the job front in the Inland Empire.

A massive solar power project is expected to bring in hundreds of jobs. It broke ground Friday on federal land outside of Blythe, near Black Rock Road and Dracker Road.

Gov. Jerry Brown was joined by federal, state and local officials to break ground on the world's largest solar plant.

"This is as big as the day they discovered oil in Texas," said Brown. "And we will replace oil with California sun."

The Solar Trust of America Renewable Energy Station will sit on 7,000 acres. The construction project is in the earliest stage, with brush clearance and road work being done to ready the site.

"We have parabolicly-shaped mirrors and they are focusing the sunlight to a tube," said Solar Trust of America CEO Joseph Eiphhammer. "With that we are then producing steam and operating a steam turbine."

The solar plant, similar to one in Lancaster, is expected to generate enough power for 300,000 homes and businesses. It will also put California closer to a 2020 mandate for 33 percent renewable energy.

"One of the key buckets of making sure that we get to that energy future is what we do with renewable energy all around this country," said Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The solar project will also have an economic impact for the Blythe area. One thousand construction jobs are tied to the project. Once online, it's expected to generate more than 200 jobs.

Riverside County stands to collect $400,000 in property taxes.

"When completed it will double the world's capacity of solar-generated electricity," said Brown.

By 2013 the solar plant will begin harnessing the sun's rays and converting them into clean energy.

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