(BN) California Regulators Recommend 650 Megawatts of Solar Projects


California Regulators Recommend 650 Megawatts of Solar Projects
2010-11-13 02:23:37.734 GMT

By Andrew Herndon
Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A California Energy Commission panel
recommended that two power-plant developers receive licenses to
construct and operate 650 megawatts of solar-thermal projects
planned in Riverside County.
The recommendations from the state agency's siting
committee aren't approvals of either project, the commission
said today in two statements. The proposed decisions set in
motion a 30-day public-comment period in which the full five-
member commission will consider feedback before taking a final
SolarReserve LLC, based in Santa Monica, California, and
Erlangen, Germany's Solar Millennium AG, in collaboration with
Chevron Corp.'s Chevron Energy Solutions unit, are planning 150-
megawatt and 500-megawatt developments, respectively. Each would
use arrays of mirrors to concentrate sunlight for producing
steam that would drive conventional turbines to generate
The proposed licenses are milestones for the two projects,
which are approaching a year-end deadline, after which they
would no longer be eligible for federal stimulus funding. Clean-
energy developers can apply to the U.S. Treasury Department for
grants of 30 percent of their costs, provided construction
begins this year. The program expires at year-end and hasn't
been extended by Congress.
Solar Millennium's Palen Solar Power Project is planned for
a 5,200-acre site on federal land near Desert Center, east of
Palm Springs. Though the committee said the project would have
direct environmental impacts to scenery, cultural resources and
land use in the area, the benefits of the project would
"outweigh, and justify a legal override of," those negative
factors. The panel recommended two smaller configurations of the
project to reduce the effects on desert wildlife and habitats.

Parabolic Mirrors

Palen would consist of two independent 250-megawatt units
that focus sunlight using parabolic mirrors to heat a transfer
fluid for generating steam.
The Commission said SolarReserve's Rice Solar Energy
Project wouldn't pose any serious environmental threats and
would comply with all laws and regulations if pursued with the
mitigation measures included in the current development plan.
The project would be located on 1,410 acres of private land
15 miles northeast of Vidal Junction, where a field of 17,500
mirrors would be used to track the sun's movement and focus
sunlight on a central tower to store heat in molten salt.
The system, provided by United Technologies Corp., would
enable energy to be stored for as much as 10 hours so power
generation can continue into nighttime hours. To generate
electricity, the hot liquid salt is funneled through heat
exchangers connected to steam boilers.

Right of Way

Solar Millennium still awaits a right of way from the U.S.
Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, which regulates
projects on public lands.
PG&E Corp.'s Pacific Gas & Electric utility has agreed to
purchase power from Rice for 25 years. Solar Millennium is still
seeking a power-purchase contract for Palen. Development costs
haven't been disclosed for either project, though each is likely
to be more than $1 billion, according to data compiled by
Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The California Energy Commission has licensed seven other
large solar thermal plants since August with an aggregate power-
generating capacity of more than 3,492 megawatts.

For Related News and Information:
Most-read solar news: MNI SOLAR <GO>
Top renewable energy page: GREEN <GO>
California and solar power: TNI CA SOLAR <GO>
New Energy Finance news and analysis: BNEF <GO>

--Editors: Stephen West,

To contact the reporter on this story:
Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at +1-415-617-7184 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or landberg@bloomberg.net.