California is the epicenter of the clean energy movement. Several recent posts have dealt with the strong culture and commitment to alternative energy companies. 33 of the top 100 global clean technology companies are located in the state. In addition, a recent referendum was voted down, clearing the way for emission reducing technologies to take hold. Furthermore, in a presidential announcement last month, Obama pointed to a concentrated solar power (CSP) project in the Mojave desert that will provide domestically produced, renewable energy. As it turns out, another CSP project was recently approved by the California Energy Commission.
The Blythe Solar Power Project, named for the nearby town of Blythe, CA in Riverside County, is a joint development of Solar Millennium, LLC’s subsidiary Palo Verde Solar I and Chevron Energy Solutions. Consisting of four separate “and identical solar plants of 250 megawatt (MW) nominal capacity each for a total capacity of 1,000 MW nominal”, the CSP project will provide enough power for an estimated 300,000 – 750,000 homes.
A month after the approval from the California Energy Commission, the U.S. Department of the Interior followed suit. The Blythe installation – located on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) territory – will be the largest of its kind constructed on public land. According to the BLM, this is the sixth project on nationally managed space. “It is expected to create 1,066 jobs at the peak of construction and 295 permanent jobs.” This is another indication of the BLM’s move toward increasing its solar energy capacity in the southwestern region.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the project is the largest of its kind in the world and would double the amount of electricity produced in this country via solar energy. “The groundbreaking should happen by the end of the year . . . [b]ut first, the company is in ‘advanced discussions’ with the Energy Department as it attempts to land $1.9 billion in government debt financing for the first two portions of the project.” As with other large scale operations in ecologically sensitive areas, “regulators are requiring that Solar Millennium cough up funding to support more than 8,000 acres of habitat for native species such as the desert tortoise, the western burrowing owl, the bighorn sheep and the Mojave fringe-toed lizard.”