Abengoa Solar, which proposed a water-intensive solar project for the Harper Dry Lake area just west of Barstow submitted additional data on their water source--an aquifer deep beneath Harper Dry Lake from which they would have to draw millions of gallons of water in order to cool off their solar plant (see previous post). Abengoa is not the only solar site that would tap precious water supplies. The Beacon Solar project near California City also proposes to tap local ground water, although Kern County is now requiring that Beacon transition to recycled water from the nearby municipality within 5 years of the start of operations. Beacon Solar will also be required to fund programs that off-set their impact on State waters by preserving ephemeral washes and removing non-native tamarisk from other desert waterways. Perhaps similar conditions will be requested of Abengoa. We should know in early March.
The Calico Solar project--formerly known as SES Solar One-- recently submitted their planned construction schedule which involves breaking ground by October 2010. However, this will leave Calico Solar with a tight schedule considering that the California Energy Commission (CEC) is not planning to submit the Staff Assessment and Draft Environmental Impact Statement until March 16, which will be followed by a comment period and evidentiary hearings. The CEC is currently consulting with Fish and Widlife on the biological impacts of the site (see this previous post for a summary of biological data surveyed at the site and submitted by the company). Calico is anxious to begin construction by October 2010 according to one of their submissions to the CEC, possibly due to deadlines involved in filing for Federal financial backing which requires that solar projects undertake construction work by the end of the year in order to qualify for incentives. CEC indicated they would like to make a final decision on the project by 30 September 2010, but Calico LLC would like access to the site immediately after that date in order to begin relocating Desert Tortoises, according to a submission from Calico.