Federal regulators approved a 665 MW solar project slated for public desert lands in San Bernardino County near Barstow. A state permit for Tessera’s Calico solar dish project is expected to be approved by the California Energy Commission October 27. “The Calico Solar Project is one of several projects in the pipeline that will help California and this nation build a renewable energy economy,” Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar stated October 20 when signing off on the approval. The size of the project entailing large solar dishes, known as “Suncatchers,” was scaled back to reduce harm to the threatened desert tortoise. It was reduced from 8,230 to 4,604 acres, “reducing the number of tortoises affected from 107 down to 22,” according to Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. Once the CEC permit is in hand, Tessera’s project can qualify for federal funding covering 30 percent of the project’s cost, estimated at $600 million. It is also eligible for a Department of Energy loan guarantee. This marks the Bureau of Land Management’s third approval of a large-scale solar facility in the Southern California desert. Others approved previously include Tessera’s 700 MW Imperial Valley Solar Project, BrightSource’s 370 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, and the 45 MW Chevron Lucerne Valley photovoltaic project (Current, Oct. 8, 2010). “With each project, we are helping to create new jobs for American workers, reduce carbon emissions, promote energy independence, and strengthen our national security” according to Salazar.