Huge solar plant proposed in Fresno County, California

A subsidiary of the multinational Sharp Corp. is looking to build what would be one of the state's largest solar energy plants in western Fresno County.

The project would cover nearly 3,600 acres of retired farmland and generate up to 400 megawatts of power, enough to accommodate about 300,000 homes. The plant would have as many as 2.5 million photovoltaic panels.

While the proposal joins nearly three dozen other solar plants pitched in Fresno County, the venture by Recurrent Energy is by far the biggest and underscores the county's standing as a hotbed for solar development. Most of the county's proposed solar projects are a couple hundred acres or less.

Driving the interest are sunny weather and available land, on top of a rapidly expanding solar industry, said Gerardo Diaz, an assistant professor of engineering at the University of California at Merced.

The Recurrent Energy project near Tranquillity is still in its early stages. Recurrent is buying 30 parcels from the Westlands Water District, and Recurrent representatives are working with county planners on the necessary environmental review.

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