Thursday, January 10, 2013

Calico Solar Project Not Paying the Bills

The owner of the stalled Calico Solar project is asking for a deferral on nearly 600,000 dollars in rent owed for reserving a large swath of public lands.  You might remember the long saga of the proposed Calico Solar project, which will destroy up to six square miles of desert habitat in the central Mojave Desert if California and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials give K Road Power the green light to convert the previously approved plans from solar thermal to photovoltaic technology.   The short version is that the initial project plans were approved in late 2010 despite environmental concerns, but the previous owner went bankrupt and sold the project to K Road Power, which decided to alter the plans enough to warrant further environmental review.

After K Road acquired the project, Southern California Edison withdrew its agreement to buy power from it, and now K Road is stymied by unspecified issues with transmission lines.  The project would require expensive new transmission lines spanning desert wildlands.  In the meantime, K Road still holds a right-of-way approval to the public lands where it plans to build the project. The company paid its rent for the land at the beginning of 2011 and 2012, according to BLM records, but apparently K Road asked the BLM for a deferral on the bill it owes this year, according to the California Energy Commission's (CEC) status update.  The CEC document notes that the decision on whether or not to grant a deferral will be up to the BLM's California State Director.

Maybe K Road should cancel this project and invest in solar on rooftops or on already-disturbed lands.

A Mojave fringe-toed lizard spotted on the site of the proposed Calico Solar project site last year.

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