Abengoa Solar Approved; Calico Solar Submits Revised Layouts

Two solar companies. Two sites.  Two different outcomes.  The California Energy Commission (CEC) announced today that the Abengoa Solar power project--which will be located on former agricultural land--will be granted its license to start construction this year.  Abengoa Solar is sited on private land that is not nearly as ecologically sensitive as the site chosen by Tessera Solar LLC for its Calico Solar power project.

The CEC sent Tessera Solar back to the drawing board earlier this month after it deemed much of the Calico site to contain high quality desert tortoise habitat.  In response to the CEC request, Tessera Solar just submitted 6 options for reduced footprints seeking to alleviate the CEC's concerns.  The original layout probably would have displaced or killed over 100 desert tortoises.

Unfortunately only one of the recently proposed options entirely avoids the highest quality habitat ("scenario 6", screenshot below taken from Tessera Solar submission to the CEC).  Since the Commissioners explicitly asked Tessera Solar to consider layouts that avoid the highest quality habitat, I would assume that only scenario 6 would have a chance of meeting the criteria.

Scenario 6 from Tessera Solar submission to the California Energy Commission.  The least destructive of the layouts

The Commissioners' own words, as stated in the notice issued earlier this month:

"The Committee is willing, if one or more parties are interested in pursuing the matter, to consider further evidence on project proposals with reduced footprints that exclude the highest quality tortoise habitat."  (emphasis added)

Tessera Solar, probably eager to take advantage of public financing and public land, submitted 5 proposals that still included the highest quality desert tortoise habitat.  Among these is "scenario 3" which still includes over 1000 acres of the best habitat in the project footprint (the dark red shading in the screenshot below is the highest quality habitat, taken from the Tessera Solar submission to the CEC).

"Scenario 3" from the Tessera Solar submission to the California Energy Commission, the "middle road" option that would still destroy high quality tortoise habitat.


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