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11 Gigawatts of California Renewable Energy Must Start in 2010 or Lose Recovery Act Funds

Of the 16 Gigawatts of renewable energy that the US will have installed once the Recovery Act (ARRA) stimulus funds are all spent, 11 Gigawatts are in California, according to a document released by the CEC enumerating 11,180 MW worth of proposed projects listing an application for Recovery Act funding. Of these 53 projects, 8,906 MW are in 20 projects totaling over 200 MW each. The projects would drive 10,000 construction jobs, 2,200 operational jobs and up to $30 billion in investment.

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The Recovery Act funding for them is either in the form of a loan guarantee for private investment, or the 30% tax credit,  if an investor has had no profits to take a tax credit against (on tax years since the 2008 econo-apocalypse, that lingers still) then in the form of cash grants in lieu of 30% tax credits on investments in renewable energy.

The 30% tax credit is timed out at the end of 2012 for wind, and 2013 for biomass, but has till 2016 for solar. However, the Recovery Act 30% cash funding has till the end of this year only.

This puts real pressure on these renewable projects, as they must have final approval by December 2010 to be eligible. The hoops that renewable projects must jump through have taken three years or more. Most are mired in local level environmental reviews for years.

Partly this is because of the sheer number and size of the California projects, especially a dozen huge solar farms unlike anything regulators have reviewed in 20 years, that is time-stressing agencies (who are among the few state departments not furloughed, because of this enormous workload). No other state has so many huge solar projects in the pipeline. Billions of dollars in stimulus funds ride on whether the permitting process can get this huge job done in time.

One project that looks like it just might make it in time is the Brightsource 392 MW Ivanpah project. The application was begun in 2007. The smaller version of the project was just approved by the CEC after solving tortoise issues with fencing and by shrinking 12%, and if it makes it in time, will receive  $1.37 billion in ARRA loan guarantees. The last of a number of review periods could be done by the end of August.

Every year, this one project will eliminate 400,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, that endanger habitats for not just tortoises but humans too. Each renewable energy project sited on BLM lands will not just help us save our habitat, though.

According to new rules published last month by the Interior Department, each will also pay ongoing annual rents per acre, and fees per megawatt hour to local governments as well. For just one example, the 1,000 MW Solar Millennium parabolic-trough solar thermal project in Blythe, near Los Angeles, would pay $9.5 million every year between per-MW fees and annual per acre rents.

Image: Steve Jurvetson “About 1.4 mirrors powers one home”

Susan Kraemer@Twitter


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Written By

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

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