Large Solar Thermal Projects Get to Stay at CEC

By Published On: May 25, 2012

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the first energy bill of this session May 23. The newly signed law allows a solar power developer that is switching technologies to reapply for a permit from the California Energy Commission. The state chief signed AB 1073 by Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes (D-Arleta). It allows K Road Power to get its 600 MW solar thermal Calico project slated for public land in San Bernardino County permitted by the state, avoiding having to start at square one at the local level. In December 2010, the Energy Commission approved a construction permit for a solar Stirling Dish project but the financially struggling developer, Tessera, sold the project to K Road. Shortly after K Road bought the project, it announced it was switching to photovoltaic technology because of cost advantages. In late March of this year, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the Calico project. They allege the project threatens desert tortoises, and “many other sensitive and rare animal and plant species” (Current, March 30, 2012). The federal agency has not yet responded and no trial date is set.

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