Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to buy 553 MW of power from a solar thermal project in the Mojave Desert planned by an Israeli company. The solar firm, Solel, is expected to develop, finance and construct the project, which contracting parties predict will come online in early 2011. Thus, the risk of the deal falls on Solel\u2019s shoulders. The solar thermal project involves building nine power projects spread over nine square miles, or 6,000 acres, in the Mojave Desert. Electricity will be generated from steam produced by fluid inside a vacuum tube heated by concentrated solar rays. This is not new technology, but the size of this solar thermal parabolic technology is novel. Whether the project--said to begin producing solar juice in 2001--is viable remains to be seen. The specifics of the deal, many of which remain secret, raise a number of questions. For example, not revealed are the agreement\u2019s length and the price per kWh. Also unknown at this time is who owns the land at issue and whether the developer has control of the unnamed site. Circuit attempted several times to speak with Solel\u2019s chief executive officer to get more information, but repeated calls were left unanswered as of press time. Some say the solar thermal project is a proven technology. \u201cIt is not rocket science,\u201d said Signal Hill financial analyst Michael Carboy. But others warn that although Solel is using a known solar trough\/absorber technology, the company has little experience in large-scale construction, project development, and financing. The renewables agreement was submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission for its approval July 25. Will this deal be like the big solar dish project Southern California Edison agreed to two years ago, which we have heard little about since then (Circuit, Aug. 5, 2005)? Circuit\u2019s project update queries on the 850 MW solar dish power plant have been left unanswered because Stirling, the developer, has not returned calls either. And, Edison refers all questions on the project to Stirling. But back to the PG&E-Solel deal. The two contracting parties point to an existing 354 MW solar thermal project in the sun-baked Mojave Desert that uses the same technology. However, neither PG&E nor the spokespeople for Solel could or would provide the amount of kWh the project actually produces.