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 an entirely 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 eventually provide 280 megawatts of clean, renewable energy constructed in two separate phases.

Image courtesy of First Solar.

The power produced by the first phase (130 megawatts) has been contracted by Apple, Inc. for their Cupertino, CA headquarters and other facilities. The second phase (150 megawatts) is slated for completion in 2018, with electricity production contracted for purchase by Pacific Gas & Electric.

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.