Sunnyside Solar Farm Gets Green Light. Project will bring private investment to underserved community – Turner

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The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has granted permit approval for the long-discussed Sunnyside solar farm project, the office of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Friday.

The overgrown 240-acre former landfill will become a beneficial urban solar farm, creating hundreds of jobs for the Sunnyside community and enough energy to power up to 10,000 homes, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. The facility is expected to be fully operational by July 2023. The investment in the Sunnyside community from the solar farm would be approximately $70 million, Turner said.

“When complete, it will be the nation’s largest urban solar farm built on a landfill,” Turner said. “We will remove approximately 120 million pounds of carbon from the air each year, create jobs and transform a historically underserved and underresourced community by bringing private investment to the predominantly black and brown, marginalized and disenfranchised community. rights in Houston.”

Turner made his comments at a news conference Friday morning, joined by U.S. Representative Al Green, U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Sandra Massie Hines, the “Honorary Mayor of Sunnyside,” Paul F Curran, CEO from BQ Energy and Dr. Muddassir. Siddiqi, president of Houston Community College-Central Campus.

BQ Energy is developing the facility. The Sunnyside Solar Farm project is the result of the public-private partnership structured by the Mayor’s Offices of Resilience and Sustainability, Complete Communities, and Economic Development and the ongoing collaboration between the private sector, community, and city agencies. and the state.

Turner expressed his gratitude for the federal funding obtained by Rep. Al Green.

Green, whose congressional district includes the Sunnyside neighborhood, was awarded $750,000 in workforce development grants to help with the solar farm project.

“There was a question of whether Sunnyside will survive,” Green said. “But I’m here to tell you today that Sunnyside will not only survive, it will also thrive, because what they thought was a forever dump will become a solar farm that will become the epicenter of change in solar activity in America.”

The farm will create more than 100 green and construction job opportunities, according to the mayor’s office. The $750,000 grant will be used to train and place 175 Houstonians through Houston Community College and Lone Star College, creating opportunities for students in Sunnyside and other Complete Communities neighborhoods for solar and related jobs solar by September 2023.

“These are STEM jobs and employment in STEM occupations is expected to grow 8.8% by 2028,” Green said. “The average advertised salary for entry-level STEM jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher is $66,123, compared to $52,299 for non-STEM jobs… People who get STEM jobs will have the opportunity to own houses and start businesses. We need more STEM jobs.

“As we develop these alternative energy sources, we can be for the world, not just the nation, the source of inspiration, research and development, innovation, technology,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. “Sunnyside is our neighborhood. These are our houses and they are not for sale.

Sunnyside had been waiting for the green light from the TCEQ for nearly two years.

The next step is to define the terms of the power purchase, which would allow for the creation of a Community Benefits Agreement with the community of Sunnyside, Turner said.

“We used an environmental justice lens to re-imagine this landfill,” Turner said. “And we have made equity the central and most critical element of our site redevelopment plans for Sunnyside. Another example is the new Sunnyside health and multi-service center currently under construction. I look forward to advancing the work that will allow all Houstonians, especially the residents of Sunnyside, to benefit from this project.

juhi.varma@hcnonline.com


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