The energy company proposing to build the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System (ISEGS)--BrightSource Energy--is eager for the California Energy Commission (CEC) to issue the Presiding Member's Proposed Decision on the project, according to documents available to the public. The Presiding Member's proposed decision -- as seen with the Beacon Solar power project -- is essentially the second-to-last step before the CEC either approves or denies an energy project in California. The decision will also reflect what sorts of conditions the energy company will have to meet in order to start construction--such as the relocation of endangered species or payment of mitigation funds to preserve desert habitat in another part of the Mojave Desert. Once the proposed decision is issued, there is a 30 day comment period before the CEC makes it final.
BrightSource Energy is in a hurry because it needs to start construction on the project before the end of 2010 in order to remain eligible for American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) financing. However, the company also anticipates having to start and finish the removal of desert tortoises on the site between September and November before they can start construction. The company may not be able to relocate tortoises after November because of the hibernation period. If the CEC Presiding Member's Proposed Decision is not made within the next month, BrightSource Energy may not be eligible for taxpayer-backed financing.
Ironically, the energy company's letter to the CEC invoked the Gulf Oil spill as a reason why it was imperative for the company to begin construction on the site in the near future. BrightSource Energy claimed that the spill of fossil fuels that destroyed acquatic habitat in the Gulf of Mexico was a good reason to speed up the destruction of pristine Mojave Desert habitat in California with a vast solar power plant. You can read previous posts on this blog for information on the endangered and special status species that will be harmed by the construction and operation of Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System. It's true that renewable energy will reduce carbon emissions that are accelerating global warming, but it's also true that solar energy production can be installed on your rooftop, or atop parking lots, or on fallow agricultural fields. BrightSource Energy should avoid the self-righteous rhetoric--the company is receiving taxpayer-backed financing, it is asking to operate on public lands, and it chose a site that is home to dozens of threatened desert tortoises, and rare plants.