By John Hernandez
June 27, 2018
Copper Area News Publishers
Plans are in the works for the construction of a photovoltaic solar power facility with battery storage and an associated generation line. The facility will be built on BHP’s reclaimed mine site (tailings) east of San Manuel. The reclaimed tailing storage is owned by BHP and will be leased long term to Pattern Development. A generation interconnecting line from the proposed solar and battery facility to the adjacent San Manuel Substation is planned.
Pattern Development is the privately held affiliate of Pattern Energy Group, Inc. They are North America’s largest independent U.S. based renewable energy generator. Using both wind and solar energy, they own and operate renewable energy facilities in Canada, Japan and the United States.
At an open house meeting held on June 19 at the San Manuel Community Center, representatives of Pattern Development answered questions from the public.
Currently BHP and Pattern Development are in the process of applying to Pinal County for a zoning change from General Rural to Industrial (I-3) zoning. Pattern Development will have to deal with the Arizona Corporation Commission for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Transmission Line and Power Plant Siting Committee for permits.
If plans go well, construction of the solar energy facility will begin in late 2019 or early 2020. It will initially create approximately 250 construction jobs. It is estimated that the project will be completed by the end of 2020 and operational by 2021. Only a handful of permanent jobs (less than 10) will be needed following the construction. The facility will be capable of generating enough electricity to provide power for 38,000 homes.
The positive news for San Manuel is that it will benefit the economy in the short run and will bring attention to the Tri-Community area.