NEWBERRY SPRINGS Southern California Edison terminated an agreement to purchase power generated by a proposed 663.5 megawatt solar thermal project east of Newberry Springs.

Edison notified Tessera Solar developer of the Calico Solar Project Thursday of its decision to terminate the agreement. Details and terms of the contract are confidential, said Tessera spokesperson Janette Coates. Tessera is pursuing other power purchase agreements.

The project, which initially had a proposed footprint of 8,230 acres of public land and was expected to generate 850 megawatts of electricity, is sited for 4,613 acres. Tessera scaled back the size of its project to protect desert tortoise habitat and plant life. The company had planned to satisfy its agreement with Edison to build a 850 megawatt project by purchasing private land.

According to Vanessa McGrady, a spokesperson for Edison, 850 megawatts is a significant portion of energy to lose. Edison and other utilities are striving to reach the state's goal of having 33 percent of California's energy come from renewable sources by 2020.

"We sign a lot of contracts," McGrady said. "Not all of them will come to fruition."

She couldn't say if Edison terminated contracts with other renewable energy project developers.

David Briery, a spokesperson with the Bureau of Land Management, said Tessera Solar informed the BLM of the termination of its power purchase agreeement with Edison and they're waiting on further word from the company as to its plans.

The termination of the power purchase agreement does not impact the BLM's decision in October to approve the project, Briery said.

A spokesperson with the California Energy Commission could not comment as to whether or not the terminated contract affected the commission's decision to approve the project.

Tessera received approval from the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management to build the project in October. If the project is built to produce 850 megawatts of energy it is expected to power 500,000 homes and create 700 construction jobs.
At 850 megawatts, the project is worth $2.5 billion.

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(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com