The 250 MW Genesis Solar Project landed its final approval Nov. 4. The Department of Interior okayed NextEra\u2019s parabolic trough project that is slated for 1,950 acres of desert land near Blythe. \u201cThis is the seventh renewable energy project approved through the fast-track process in less than four weeks--a giant leap forward in meeting the President\u2019s goals for developing domestic energy resources, reducing carbon emissions, promoting energy independence, and enhancing our national security,\u201d Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stated when signing the Record of Decision. The California Energy Commission, which has partnered with the Interior\u2019s Bureau of Land Management to fast track the permitting of large renewable projects on public desert lands, certified the facility Sept. 29. This $1 billion NextEra project qualifies for $300 million of federal stimulus funds. The Genesis solar thermal project was reworked to reduce its environmental impact, including switching to dry cooling to reduce its projected water use from 1,400 acre-feet per year to 200 acre-feet a year. Its output will flow into Southern California Edison\u2019s Blythe Energy 230-kilovolt line, with interconnection to the Devers-Palo Verde line. Other large solar projects seeking public land in the Southern California desert that have won federal and state approval to date include: -Tessera\u2019s 663 MW Calico project estimated to cost $2.5 billion. -Tessera\u2019s 700 MW Imperial solar dish project, estimated to cost $2.1 billion. -BrightSource\u2019s 392 MW Ivanpah solar thermal, estimated to cost $1.8 billion. -Solar Millennium\u2019s 1,000 MW Blythe Project, with the first 500 MW estimated to cost $3 billion. -Chevron\u2019s 45 MW Photovoltaic facility. More project approvals are in the pipeline before the end of the year. The Energy Commission, which has licensed seven solar thermal power plants since August, isn\u2019t quite done considering projects. After a highly unusual period of activity since the summer where the commission licensed almost 3,500 MW worth of renewable solar energy plants, there are no currently scheduled approvals for the month of November. But by the end of the year, the commission\u2019s expects to review the licensing applications for two more proposed projects, the 500 MW Palen Solar Power Project and the 150 MW Rice Solar Energy Project. Both projects, like the seven already approved, are slated for the Riverside County and Mojave Desert areas of Southern California. Each also would utilize solar thermal technology, which converts solar power to rotary power to drive an electrical generator and produce electricity. The projects need to be approved by the Energy Commission before Dec. 31 in order for them to qualify for federal stimulus funds, which is why there\u2019s been such an usually high number of projects coming before the commission since the summer. More than 4,100 MW of solar power will be added if all nine projects are approved, according to the CEC, with the wattage going towards helping Southern California Edison and other utilities meet the state\u2019s Renewables Portfolio Standard. It requires California\u2019s electric companies to use renewable energy to produce 20 percent of their power by 2014 and 33 percent by 2020.