The Oberon project is a 500MW solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generating station under development in California, US.

IP Oberon, a subsidiary of Intersect Power, is responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of the solar power project.

The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the Oberon solar project in January 2022, as part of its Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Land Use Plan (DRECP) Amendment. The DRECP is a landscape-level plan that is aimed at streamlining the development of renewable energy on 10.8 million acres of public lands in the desert regions of seven counties in California.

Construction on the solar power project is expected to start in 2022 and the facility is anticipated to commence operations in 2023.

The Oberon solar project will generate and transmit renewable energy to the wholesale electricity grid in the state, once operational. It will be located entirely on federal land.

Location and site details

The Oberon solar project will be located on BLM-administered land, near the Desert Center in eastern Riverside County, California, US.

The project will occupy a total area of approximately 5,000 acres, with its facilities spanning about 2,700 acres of the overall site.

Oberon solar project details

The Oberon solar project development will include a solar PV electricity generating station, battery energy storage facility, electrical substation, and a generation-tie (gen-tie) line.

The project will consist of solar array fields featuring single-axis solar PV trackers, and inverter-transformer stations containing six inverters each. The solar facility is expected to be built in blocks of 2 to 5MW.

Inverters-transformer stations will be connected to a substation located on-site through the installation of 34.5kV collection power lines. The substation will help in transforming the voltage from 34.5kV to 500kV.

The substation to be located in the central area of the solar facility will comprise power and auxiliary transformers, control buildings for protection and control equipment, metering stand, and circuit breakers and disconnect switches.

The battery energy storage system will be used to store the electricity generated by the Oberon solar facility. Expected to be capable of storing up to 500MW of power for 4 hours, the battery system will be placed in the southeastern part of the project area near the substation.

The project will include the installation of a new 500kV gen-tie line of 6.4km within the solar facility area. An 804m gen-tie line will also be laid outside the solar facility to provide a connection to the Red Bluff substation of the Southern California Edison (SCE).

The Red Bluff substation will also be upgraded to facilitate the interconnection of the Oberon gen-tie line.

Infrastructure facilities

The Oberon solar project will include infrastructure facilities such as interior access roads, an approximately 3,000ft2 operation and maintenance (O&M) building, supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA) and telecommunications facilities, and a meteorological data collection system.

Power evacuation

The electricity generated by the Oberon solar project will be transmitted to the existing 500kV Red Bluff substation near the town of Desert Center, through a new 500kV gen-tie transmission line.

Project financing

Intersect Power secured total funding commitments of $2.6bn in November 2021 to construct and operate six solar projects, including the Oberon project. The funding included construction financing, tax equity, land financing and portfolio level term debt.

Existing Intersect investors CarVal Investors, Generate and Climate Adaptive Infrastructure, along with HPS Investment Partners and co-Investors offered portfolio level, term debt funding.

Power purchase agreement

San Diego Community Power approved a 15-year power purchase agreement for a 150MW portion of the total electricity generated by the Oberon solar project in May 2021.

Contractors involved

Ironwood Consulting was engaged to deliver biological services for initial protocol biological surveys, reporting, and agency consultation for the Oberon solar project. The services included habitat assessments, vegetation mapping and wetland delineation.

Orrick served as an advisor to Intersect Power in the funding transactions for its solar project portfolio.

First Solar was contracted by Intersect Power to deliver up to 2.4GW of Series 6 photovoltaic solar modules for its seven projects in February 2021.