Business Buzz: September 14th, 2017

Imperial County Gets Slice Of The Hollywood Pie

BY GARY REDFERN Business Buzz Reporter

While Imperial County’s fertile farm land is a legendary multi-billion-dollar industry, all that vacant desert land around it is a money maker for the local economy as well.

“We have the market cornered on the post-apocalyptic (look). The movie industry knows to call me,” quipped Imperial County Film Commissioner Charla Teeters.

With the international mecca of the film industry just over 200 miles away in Los Angeles, largely rural Imperial County is a popular destination when producers want to ditch the urban look for something a bit more open-and eclectic.

“Our most filmed areas are the Salton Seaand I will include Slab City and Salvation Mountain in that, the desert areas, the agricultural/livestock areas and then the cities,” Teeters explained.

Slab City is a long-abandoned military base in the northeast section of the county near Niland that has become the ultimate desert “off-the-grid” locale sporting a collection of eccentric denizens. One of them built Salvation Mountain, a psychedelic mass sculpture.

The Salton Sea is a 375-square-mile inland sea lined by sparsely populated, often decaying, hamlets and desolate salt flats scrawled with gnarled long-dead trees standing sentinel.

The county is also home to the Imperial Sand Dunes, one of the nation’s largest dune systems, and other diverse desert areas rimmed with panoramic mountain ranges.

It all makes for popular and unique film backdrops. According to Teeters, in the three year period from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2017, Imperial County attracted 230 commercial film and photography shoots with a total estimated economic impact of $6.8 million. Those are important dollars in local pockets.

“When a production company comes down here, they spend money,” Teeters said. “It is an important part of the economic pie. (Serving) that is what the Film Commission exists for, to increase the economic impact for Imperial Valley.”

She explained film crews range from a few for student productions to large entourages for blockbuster films, most recently “Sniper” and “War Dogs.”

“We are super excited about the big movies, but our bread and butter is the week to week and month to month productions that include reality shows, commercials, music videos and commercial photography,” Teeters added.

Local businesses that benefit the most are hotels/motels, equipment rental, hardware, restaurants/caterers and gas stations. Individual laborers with experience in working with film crews also see occasional work. Teeters explained the true value of the Film Commission is being able to quickly connect film crews to the shoot locations, goods, services and labor they need, and having a reputation within the industry for achieving that. It means being ready for anything.

“I get really strange requests sometimes. For instance, they need something manufactured or welded for their props. Or they need a paddle boat in the middle of the desert,” she said.

“It’s important that we’re a film-friendly area. Our (Film Commission) services are free and we put them in contact with the right people. I help them work with whomever they need to,” Teeters added.

The Film Commission operates under the Joint Chambers of Commerce of Imperial County and is recognized by the California Film Commission as the official advocate for filming interests in the region.

Funding is provided through what Teeters termed “its generous and supportive members,” including Imperial County, the cities of Brawley, El Centro and Holtville, and community-minded business owners.


Puretone Musicshop Opens In The Northeast Section Of The Imperial Valley Mall


Puretone Music Shop opened Monday, September 11 in the northeast section of the Imperial Valley Mall near Deli Haus Restaurant. The music store was previously located in Calexico ‘s Los Mercado’s Shopping Center for 4 years according to owner Joel Rodriguez, a Calexico native. The store features guitars, drums and amplifiers.


Tenaska Refinances Second Solar Facility In Imperial Valley

Tenaska has closed refinancing on its 150-megawatt (MW) Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West project through an issuance of $400 million of senior secured, long-term notes. The private placement received an investment-grade rating of BBB by Kroll.

“Tenaska Imperial West continues to be a successful project, and the market responded favorably,” said Greg Van Dyke, Tenaska’s chief financial officer. “This speaks to the financial strength of the project and to Tenaska’s reputation in the industry.”

Tenaska Imperial West began full commercial operation in April
2016 under a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). The photovoltaic solar field, located near Seeley in California’s Imperial Valley, can produce enough power for approximately 55,000 homes.

At the time of its initial financing in 2014, Tenaska Imperial West was one of the largest solar facilities financed in the U.S. commercial bank market.

An affiliate of Tenaska is the owner of Tenaska Imperial West, which is one of two utility-scale solar projects Tenaska has developed in the Imperial Valley. Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy
Center South can produce up to 130 MW of electricity under a 25year power purchase agreement with SDG&E.

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, MUFG Securities America, Inc. and BNP Paribas Securities Corp. acted as co-placement agents for the senior secured notes. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. and BNP Paribas are providing letters-of-credit and working capital facilities.

Riverside Risk Advisors assisted Tenaska in designing and executing its interest rate risk management program.

The senior secured notes have been designated as green bonds as
Tenaska Imperial West, being a renewable energy project, contributes to greater environmentally sustainability.

Sustainalytics, an independent environmental, social and governance (ESG) research, ratings and analysis firm, provided a secondparty opinion endorsing Tenaska Imperial West’s Green Bond Framework. The opinion follows the guidance provided by the Green Bond Principles of 2017.

About Tenaska

Tenaska, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is one of the leading independent power producers in the United States, with regional offices in Dallas, Denver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston and Calgary, Alberta and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Forbes magazine ranks Tenaska among the largest privately held U.S. companies. Tenaska and its affiliates have developed approximately 10,000 megawatts (MW) of natural gas-fueled and renewable power generation and manage operations for approximately 7,000 MW of power generation consisting of nine power plants.

Tenaska formed CSOLAR IV West, LLC to build, own and manage Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West.