Project Focus: California Energy Commission approves two new solar projects totaling 959MW

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In order for the Genesis Solar Energy Project and the Imperial Valley Solar Project to qualify for federal stimulus funds, they needed the approval of the California Energy Commission before December 31 and as the clock counted down, the Energy Commission gave their final approval for the two new solar projects in Southern California this week. The two projects are the fifth and sixth solar power plants that the Commission has given their approval for over the past five weeks and will total 959MW, bringing the total amount of renewable solar power the Energy Commission has licenses since August to 2,829MW.

The projects are a result of the partnership between the state of California and the Department of Interior’s MOU to develop long-term renewable energy plants through the state and federal permitting processes that can get up to 30% in federal tax credits under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

“These approved solar projects continue to demonstrate the importance of harnessing the power of the sun for clean, renewable energy for California’s communities,” said Energy Commission Chairman Karen Douglas. “By adding nearly 1,000MW of renewable power we will reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and get the State closer to its goals of using more renewable’s by 2020. Today’s actions show how California is leading the nation by licensing nearly 3,000MW this year with large-scale solar power plants.”

Although both projects still need the final decisions from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which are scheduled for October, the two projects are preparing for their proposed development. The Genesis Solar Energy Project, licensed at 250MW, has been put forward by Genesis Solar in Riverside County. The project is looking for a right-of-way grant from the BLM for 4,640 acres, using 1,800 of those acres for construction and operation of the facility by using parabolic trough technology.

The Imperial Valley Solar Project, licensed for 709MW in Imperial County, is being developed by Imperial Valley Solar. The proposed site calls for 6,140 acres of land managed by the BLM and around 360 acres of privately-owned land and use solar dish Stirling systems, or SunCatchers.

The Genesis and Imperial Valley sites are two of nine large-scale solar thermal projects, which are to go before the Energy Commission before the close of 2010. If all nine projects are approved, they will have the potential to produce over 4,100MW of solar power.

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