A truly massive 709 MW Stirling solar thermal project from Tessera Solar and a tiny 45 MW one from Chevron have won approval from the BLM today as part of a slew of solar projects being rushed to approval by the end of the year, when the Recovery Act cash grants for renewable energy expire, although neither project is eligible for the cash.
Tessera qualifies for about $273 million in tax credits for their gigantic solar dish project. Their Imperial Valley project, on 6,500 acres about 14 miles west of El Centro, California was carefully sited with help by the NRDC.
“The process provided valuable lessons that careful planning, siting and designing up front will lead to renewable projects that are smart from the start” said the senior attorney Johanna Wald for the Natural Resources Defense Council which worked closely with both companies on careful siting.
“A program is smart from the start if it guides development to the least conflict areas — or zones — rather than prioritizing development on a first come first serve basis. DOI must play a proactive role to ensure speedy, responsible development of the renewable resources that we need”.
Tessera’s is the first to receive both CEC and BLM approval.
Their power production will be spoken for, because they have a 20-year PPA agreement for San Diego Gas & Electric to buy their power, starting with the first phase of 300 MW.
Another project was also given the go-ahead today by the BLM, with approval of the siting choice from the NRDC, with equal fanfare. Yet it is a relatively small 45 MW Lucerne Valley solar project from California oil giant Chevron. Power plants typically average about 250 MW.
As a profitable company, Chevron would not qualify for the 30% cash grants the Obama administration is supplying under the Recovery Act for its tiny solar project, because only companies that did not earn a profit in the aftermath of the economic apocalypse of 2008 qualify. But it does get a tax credit of 30% of the cost of building it.