The Project Formerly Known as Solar One...

Updates on the certification process for two large-scale solar projects -- Solar One and Beacon Solar

The  850 megawatt and approximately 8,000 acre solar project previously titled "Solar One" proposed for the Pisgah, California area (just east of the Interstate 40 and Interstate 15 Junction) has adopted a new name -- Calico Solar Project as proposed by the newly re-named Calico Solar LLC (formerly SES LLC).   You can read my December posting on the preliminary environmental impact statement for the Calico site, but the short and dirty is that the site is host to the endangered Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard and Desert Tortoise. 

As of early January Calico Solar LLC  submitted additional information required by the California Energy Commission (CEC) for its application so we can expect to see more forward movement on the certification process.  They still have to submit a Desert Tortoise relocation and mitigation plan.  However, review of Calico LLC's documents from last year suggest the program managers have been proactive in reaching out to various stakeholders.  Calico LLC reached out to the office of Senator Feinstein early in the drafting of the California Desert Protection Act 2010 (CDPA 2010),  and consulted with the BLM in the project's initial stages to identify ideal land.  To the company's credit, they even consulted with the Wildlands Conservancy to deconflict and ensure the project's ability to use nearly 1,700 acres of lands donated by the Conservancy to the BLM for conservation purposes.  According to the company's submissions, the Wildlands Conservancy did not object to the Calico Solar project being built on some of the donated land. 

Calico Solar also uses minimal water resources since the "sun catcher" technology does not require the same type of cooling processes seen at other proposed solar projects.

Speaking of water, Beacon Energy is attempting to move it's water intensive project forward in the CEC.  You can read my previous post on this project, which explains the troubles Beacon Solar encountered because they plan to use a water guzzling "wet cooling" process.  According to a January 2010 document, the CEC has proposed conditions that would require Beacon Solar to have a recycled water system in place within 5 years of the project's completion.  The proposed recycled water delivery would take used water from nearby California City to help cool the solar plant.   The company's initial application proposed pumping up to 856 million gallons of groundwater a year (who knew all that water existed in the desert!). 

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Beacon Solar site actually has very little impact on biological resources because it will be built on abandoned farm land, so the "wet cooling" process was an ironic weakness of the proposal at a time when the Ivanpah project proposed using a more efficient "dry cooling" process in the middle of ideal Mojave habitat.  Hopefully Beacon Solar's recycled water solution will get the project back on track.


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