Efficiency & Environment
Bear Valley Solar Energy Project
Bear Valley Electric Service, Inc. (BVES, Inc.), in partnership with Big Bear Area Regional Water Agency (BBARWA), is planning to develop the Bear Valley Solar Energy Project (BVSEP), which is an 8-megawatt (MW) alternating current single-axis tracker solar generation facility. BVES, Inc. filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in March 2019. Once BVES, Inc. has approval from the CPUC for its application and approval from the County in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process, construction will begin. It is anticipated that construction will start in the fall of 2019. This important investment will provide a clean, local energy solution for the region. The BVSEP is a critical step toward meeting the State of California's requirement that electric providers like BVES, Inc. transition to 50 percent renewable energy sources by 2026 (60 percent renewable by 2030 and 100 percent zero-carbon by 2045).
The project represents a cost-effective energy solution that will improve system reliability and reduce the cost to provide power. Customer rates will decrease over time as a result of reduced supply costs, as will the community's reliance on more expensive imported power generated by fossil fuels.
Construction will include the installation of a solar field at the BBARWA headquarters in Big Bear. The BVSEP will utilize solar panels that rotate with the sun and have the ability to produce an additional 8 MW of solar energy for the electric grid, which is enough to power approximately 4,000 homes and produce the majority of the community's power during shoulder seasons.
As part of the project approval process, experts will study the short-term and long-term impacts on the environment and local residents per the CEQA process, and the results of the study will be subject to review and approval by County Officials as a condition to begin construction. Additionally, careful steps are being taken in the design to maintain the area's appeal, including the decision to build the BVSEP at the remote BBARWA wastewater overflow site.
In February 2019, GE Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric International, Inc., and BVES, Inc. entered into a contract for GE Solar to be the project developer, contingent on the project being approved by the CPUC and all necessary permits being granted. GE Solar plans to partner with the local business for site management and construction, which should have a positive impact on the local economy.
For additional information about the BVSEP, customers are encouraged to call 800-808-BVES (2837).