Construction has begun on all four sites and is scheduled to be completed by late December. A fifth site will also be added, along with a second phase at one of the sites at a later stage. The second phase will add 7.5 of capacity and is expected to be completed in 2012.
The four installations will see 83,000 solar panels installed onto prison grounds in the state and are estimated to save taxpayers over $57 million over their 20-year contracts.
SunEdison has sourced the funding for the project and will cover all construction and maintenance costs. These costs will be offset by funding through the California Solar Initiative Program.
"With our agreement, we are able to lock in a low electricity rate for the next 20 years and avoid paying utility demand charges during peak demand hours in the summer," said CDCRs Chris Meyer, in a statement announcing the SunEdison installations.
Two of the prisons participating in the project, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison and Ironwood State Prison, were photovoltaic pioneers having one megawatt systems installed in 2006 and 2008, which were then the largest of their kind.