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Solar Project Planned At Former California Nuclear Power Plant Site

C.M. Kelner / Flickr Creative Commons

The decommissioned Rancho Seco nuclear plant, as seen on Nov. 26, 2011.

C.M. Kelner / Flickr Creative Commons

The Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station, southeast of Sacramento, was shut down and later decommissioned after voters decided to close the reactor in 1989.

Now, 26 years later, a solar energy system will take over 62 acres of the site.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District, or SMUD, approved construction of a solar facility and a 20-year agreement with First Solar, which will own the plant.

"We feel really excited to be able to see this kind of reuse on an industrial facility that has been idle for some time," says Amanda Beck, a SMUD Senior Project Manager. "And to be able to use that for renewable energy is exciting for us and to be using it for a community solar program, even more exciting."

Construction of the solar plant is expected to begin before the end of this year, with the facility producing energy by September 2016.

SMUD says 27 percent of its electricity comes from renewable energy. The California Renewable Portfolio Standard requires utilities to meet a 33 percent standard by 2020.

The utility says it approved the project after a California Environmental Quality Act study.