Regulators approved a long-term solar thermal contract with a maximum capacity of 245 MW between Southern California Edison and eSolar December 4. The 20-year deal approved this week by the California Public Utilities Commission is slated for the Lancaster area in the high desert north of Los Angeles. It is expected to come online in phases, with the first phase beginning in 2012. The project capacity is between 105-245 MW, creating up to 515 GWh. New transmission is needed to hook the project to the grid. It is expected to be located near the proposed Tehachapi renewable transmission project, according to the CPUC. The concentrating solar thermal technology has not yet been used on a commercial scale. A demonstration project is being built in Southern California. The power is created by concentrated light boiling water in a central receiver. The steam is then sent to a turbine to produce electricity. The eSolar solar thermal technology \u201cuses shorter towers, small mass-manufactured mirrors and advanced tracking software, achieving economies of scale within a minimal footprint and easy connection to transmission lines,\u201d according to Edison. This is the first solar thermal contract Edison has signed since 2002, which was the year the state\u2019s 20 percent renewable portfolio standard law was enacted. Pasadena-based eSolar is a start up firm financed by Google, Idealab, and Oak Investment Partners.