After months of silence about large utility deals with Stirling Energy, the solar dish firm announced April 17 it will get a $100 million infusion from a new financial partner. “The $100 million investment by NTR will bolster the financial strength of the solar project and add NTR’s commercial expertise in bringing renewable energy projects to market,” states a release from the Sunrise Powerlink community alliance. The Stirling investment is supposed to advance a solar project in the Imperial Valley that may hook to San Diego Gas & Electric’s proposed Sunrise Powerlink transmission line, which the utility says it needs to meet the mandated 20 percent renewables standard that is just two years away. In 2005, SDG&E signed a deal with Stirling for 300-900 MW. Earlier that year, Southern California Edison entered into a contract for up to 850 MW from the solar dish company. Thousands of the dishes were said to be slated for public land in the Mojave Desert. However, the Bureau of Land Management declared some 25,000 acres of desert land in the vicinity of Ridgecrest off limits to solar development to protect habitat for the Mojave ground squirrel. Just hours before the investment agreement was announced, the Center for Biological Diversity called the project a “charade.” “The commercial viability of the Stirling system is unproved at this time,” stated David Hogan, the center’s conservation manager.