Project Owner
IP Darden I, LLC
Docket Number
Fresno County
Solar Photovoltaic (PV)
Project Status
Under Review
Project Type
Project Description

IP Darden I, LLC and Affiliates (Applicant) propose to construct and operate the Darden Clean Energy Project on approximately 9,500 acres in western Fresno County. The project consists of a 1,150 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) facility, an up to 4,600 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system (BESS), an up to 1,150 MW green hydrogen generator, a 34.5-500 kilovolt (kV) grid step-up substation, a 10- to 15-mile 500 kV generation intertie (gen-tie) line, and a 500 kV utility switching station. The project would interconnect to the existing Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) Los Banos-Midway #2 500 kV transmission line. The project would be located in an agricultural area of unincorporated Fresno County south of the community of Cantua Creek.

The solar PV facility would be made up of approximately 3,100,000 solar panels, inverter-transformer stations, and an electrical collection system, and would be located on approximately 9,000 acres of lands currently owned by Westlands Water District that would be purchased by IP Darden. The 500 kV gen-tie line would be sited within an approximate 200-foot wide easement on private lands. Following construction of the utility switchyard by IP Darden, ownership and operations would transfer to PG&E. The BESS would be capable of storing up to 1,150 MW of electricity for four hours (up-to 4,600 MWh). The green hydrogen facility would be located on up to 225 acres and would consist of an electrolyzer, water treatment plant, and ancillary equipment. The electrolyzer would be powered by up to 1,150 MW of behind-the-meter renewable power generated by the solar facility and would be capable of producing up to 220 tonnes per day of pure, gaseous hydrogen. 

Opt-In Certification

Prior to the June 30, 2022, signing of Assembly Bill (AB) 205, the CEC’s powerplant licensing jurisdiction was limited to thermal powerplants 50 megawatts (MW) or larger. To accelerate the state’s transition to renewable energy and to maintain electrical system reliability under this transition and during extreme climate-change-driven events, AB 205, as modified by AB 209 expands the types of facilities that can be certified by the CEC. This “Opt-in” certification process is available to solar photovoltaic and terrestrial wind energy powerplants of 50 MW or more, energy storage facilities of 200 megawatt-hours (MWh) or more, the electric transmission lines from these facilities to the first point of interconnection, and facilities that manufacture or assemble clean energy or storage technologies or their components with a capital investment of at least $250 million. In addition, thermal powerplants of 50 MW or more that do not use fossil or nuclear fuels may choose the Opt-in process rather than the CEC’s Application for Certification process. AB 205 authorizes the CEC to accept applications for these facilities and provides a new, streamlined process for their review and a decision by the CEC. The CEC is the “lead agency” under the California Environmental Quality Act and is required to prepare an environmental impact report for any facility that elects to opt-in to the CEC’s jurisdiction. With exceptions, the issuance of a certificate by the CEC for an eligible facility is in lieu of any permit, certificate, or similar document required by any state, local, or regional agency, or federal agency to the extent permitted by federal law, and supersedes any applicable statute, ordinance, or regulation of any state, local, or regional agency, or federal agency to the extent permitted by federal law. The CEC’s authority under the opt-in certification program does not supersede the authority of the California State Lands Commission to require leases and receive lease revenues, if applicable, or the authority of the California Coastal Commission, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the State Water Resources Control Board or applicable regional water quality control board, or, in the case of manufacturing facilities, the applicable local air quality management district or the Department of Toxic Substances Control.


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Ann Crisp
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