SunEdison operates two solar power fields at CDCR prisons -- one at Ironwood State Prison and another at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. Both prisons are located near Blythe in Riverside County. Chuckawalla's solar power plant was activated in June 2006, and Ironwood’s was activated in May 2008. CDCR and SunEdison plan to expand each of these plants by adding a 4.3 MW solar power field adjacent to the existing systems. Once the expansions are complete, the combined output for both prisons will be approximately 11 megawatts and will offset more than 23 million pounds of carbon dioxide in the first year of operation—that’s equivalent to removing nearly 2,300 cars off the road for one year.
In May 2011, CDCR announced new plans for solar power plants at three other prisons: California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, North Kern State Prison in Delano, and California State Prison, Los Angeles County, in Lancaster.
The expansion is anticipated to save taxpayers more than $55 million over the life of the contracts. Construction and maintenance will be the responsibility of SunEdison as part of the agreement, using no State General Fund tax dollars.
The costs of the projects are further reduced by incentive dollars from California Investor Owned Utilities, through the California Solar Initiative Program, which is administered by the California Public Utilities Commission.
What impact will the new power plants have? Nearly 1 billion kilowatt-hours of solar-generated power will offset more than 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide over 20 years— that’s equivalent to powering more than 89,000 homes and removing more than 90,000 cars from the road