California Solar Plant Hits Green Bump

One of California’s higher profile solar power plants recently approved by state and federal regulators on what many consider environmentally sensitive lands has had a setback as the California Energy Commission reversed its decision after it was discovered the government body reportedly had not “filed required written findings” about environmental consequences when giving its ok. This is according to Reuters.

The order, dated Nov. 19, acknowledges a petition related to the planned Tessera Solar’s 663.5 megawatt (MW) Calico plant outside Barstow, Calif, which was filed by California Unions for Reliable Energy. The commission’s chair notes. said Reuters, that it does not necessarily agree its decision was done incorrectly. It is planned for the petition and related issue to be more formally reviewed on December 1.

image via Stirling Energy Systems

What will occur on December 1 in terms of expected decision remains to be seen, especially in light of the already signed off on federal approval by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and an expected $1.75 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. government related to the project. This particular solar plant, which had to be mitigated because of potential impacts upon the habitat of creatures like desert tortoise and bighorn sheep, could be considered a crown jewel in outgoing California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attempts to bring more clean energy and related jobs to his state.

The Calico project, as it currently stands, would be set on approximately 4,613 acres and generate enough energy to theoretically power up to 500,000 homes. It has already been scaled down once from an 850-MW facility on 8,230 acres. It also faces lawsuits, such as one by Native Americans concerned “that the installation could damage cultural and biological resources of significance.”

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I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.