The 129-megawatt Quinto solar power plant in Merced County generates electricity for 40,000 Southern California homes. Kier + Wright managed the design of sitework, frontage improvements, on-site and off-site utilities, and roadway infrastructure improvements for the 1,000-acre development.
The site, which is located immediately north of the O’Neill Forebay, was subject to various environmental constraints and easements. The California Aqueduct, a PG&E gas transmission line and Shell’s San Pablo Bay pipeline run through the property. Kier + Wright prepared maps and exhibits clearly identifying the precise locations of the encumbrances affecting the site and designed sitework and utility infrastructure that mitigated the various constraints.
The property and surrounding infrastructure were originally developed for agricultural use. To facilitate the construction of the project, roadway infrastructure needed to be modified to accommodate an 18-wheel truck hauling a 120,000-pound transformer for the plant’s substation. Kier + Wright was instrumental in identifying different routes that could be utilized to transport equipment between the site and the PG&E switch yard, assessing each route to determine the improvements that would be required to support the required capacity.
The equipment transport route ultimately utilized during the installation passed through wetland areas and crossed the California Aqueduct. The existing county bridge crossing the aqueduct was not originally built to the load-bearing specifications required for the project. Replacing the bridge would have required lengthy permitting processes through both state and county agencies, adding years to the project’s timeline. Kier + Wright worked with the developer and a structural subconsultant to determine a solution that retrofitted the bridge to withstand the required capacity without replacing the foundation, avoiding substantial construction delays. The team also designed temporary roadway infrastructure to complete the route, including a new bridge crossing the aqueduct and a railroad flatcar bridge crossing a creek in the northwestern portion of the site.
Construction of the project began at the height of the most serious drought in California history. Concerns pertaining to water scarcity added complexity to the design of the development’s water systems. Kier + Wright analyzed prospective on-site and off-site water sources and prepared exhibits that helped determine suitable sources that would reliably and sustainably produce the water needed to wash down the 1,000-acre development’s photovoltaic panels.