California Flats – Jack Ranch
In 2015, on the 150th anniversary of George Hearst’s purchase of the San Simeon property and the 10th anniversary of the San Simeon conservation easement, the Hearst Ranches embarked on a new venture with First Solar, a leading global provider of photovoltaic solar systems. The California Flats utility-scale solar project covers approximately 2,900 acres of the 73,000-acre Jack Ranch and will provide 280 megawatts of clean, renewable energy constructed in two separate phases.
The first phase (130 megawatts) is now in commercial operation, with over 650,000 individual solar modules producing clean, renewable electricity being purchased under long-term contract by Apple, Inc. for their Cupertino, CA headquarters and other facilities. The second phase (150 megawatts) remains under construction. Commercial operation of this phase, contracted by Pacific Gas & Electric, is expected in late 2018.
When completed, the California Flats project will generate enough renewable energy to serve the needs of about 100,000 homes per year, displacing over 109,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually – the equivalent of taking about 22,000 cars off the road. In contrast to many other utility-scale solar projects in California, the California Flats project is not visible from any major public roads.
In addition to producing clean, renewable energy, California Flats also provides Hearst with an alternative source of revenue ensuring the Jack Ranch will remain an intact, working landscape for many decades to come.