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Today, Lightsource bp has announced that they have closed on a $20 million financing package and have begun construction on the Wildflower Solar project here in Rio Linda, at the corner of West 6th Street and West U Street.

All of the electricity generated by the project, enough to power about 2,600 homes, will be purchased by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) through a long-term power contract.

SMUD will use the power purchased from Wildflower to support its Neighborhood SolarShares program that can provide solar to new housing developments through an off-site utility-scale solar project. The community solar program gives developers the ability to deliver the environmental benefits of solar power without having to install it on every rooftop.

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Local jobs

Project construction is underway, with commercial operation expected by the end of 2020. Construction Innovations, one of the largest locally based U.S. manufacturers of specialized electrical systems, has partnered with local contractors to build the project. The project will employ more than 75 on-site construction team members from the local community during peak construction, in addition to supporting full-time manufacturing jobs within Construction Innovations’ Sacramento facility. Founded in Sacramento in 2011, Construction Innovations has provided the electrical systems needed to power over 6% of all solar capacity nationwide.

Construction Impact

Improvements along West 6th Street include the installation of a berm and the planting of over 200 native water-wise trees and shrubs. In areas that have been disturbed by construction, Lightsource bp will be applying a carefully selected seed mix as well. Lightsource bp has created a detailed planting plan for Wildflower Solar, which will focus on screening the installation from view using vegetation and increasing the biodiversity values on the site.

Road improvements are scheduled to begin on 10/15/20 and be completed by 11/4/20.

  • Improvements will include shoulder widening, creation of the site entrance, and paving the west side of the street.
  • Traffic will be restricted to 1 lane Monday through Friday from 7am-3:30pm. All lanes will be open outside of these hours.
  • Traffic control measures will be in effect during work hours.
  • Work will occur on the west side of the street.

A project information pamphlet can be found here.

Pollinator friendly solar – fostering biodiversity and boosting crop yields

Lightsource bp creates customized long-term land and environmental management plans for solar farms that aim to maintain, as well as develop, plant and wildlife habitats to provide a net gain for local biodiversity. The plan for Wildflower Solar will be to create a pollinator-friendly solar farm, designed in collaboration with ecology experts to restore and conserve pollinator habitat.

Here in California as well as around the world, habitat loss and climate change have caused pollinator populations to decline. Over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species, are dependent on pollinators, so declining populations have detrimental effects on food systems worldwide. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have found that stable pollinator populations facilitated by pollinator-friendly solar farms allowed nearby agricultural land to be pollinated and, ultimately, boosted crop yields.

“The affordability of solar, combined with its generation of emissions-free electricity has made it an ideal source to add to our country’s energy mix. Adding on benefits such as community solar programs that help contribute to affordable housing, along with implementing long-term land management plans that enhance local biodiversity, are all ways that we can work together to multiply solar’s contribution to our nation’s economy and environment.”

Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas for Lightsource bp

About Lightsource bp

Lightsource bp is a global leader in the development and management of solar energy projects. They are a 50:50 joint venture with bp plc, working together to help drive the world’s transition to low carbon energy through competitively priced and sustainable electricity. With solar set to increase tenfold in the next 20 years, Lightsource bp is well-positioned to capitalize on this growth and enact real change on the global energy landscape through responsible solar projects.

“This program provides options to builders and a net benefit to potential homebuyers, all while providing clean power to our community. The state of California and the Sacramento region are facing an affordable housing crisis and our low-cost solar option provides a valuable tool to lower the construction costs of new homes while supporting carbon reduction goals.”

Arlen Orchard, SMUD CEO and General Manager

About SMUD

As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for almost 75 years to Sacramento County (and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties). SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit smud.org.

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