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Abengoa enters early construction stage ahead of schedule

The Abengoa Mojave Solar project near Hinkley has broken ground and is ahead of schedule.

The 250-megawatt project near Harper Dry Lake needs to be in a certified construction period by the end of the month — which means a full, active construction site —  to quality for its federal loans. Abengoa Solar’s Chief Operating Officer, Scott Frier, said Friday that the site is ahead of schedule for that.

“It’s under full construction,” Frier said. “There’s earth-moving equipment and it looks like a construction site.”

The solar project received a conditional $1.2 billion federal loan from the Department of Energy in June, which was contingent on entering a full construction stage by Sept. 30.

Frier said the foundations are currently being built for the first of 2,700 solar collector rays that will eventually power up to 80,000 homes once it is completed. The 1,765-acre project will use parabolic solar trough technology, which tracks the sun and allows for storage.

The project is scheduled to complete in spring 2014.

First Solar to hold community meeting

First Solar will host a meeting in Barstow next Monday discuss the development of its 300-megawatt Stateline Solar Farm near the California/Nevada border.

The proposed 5,540-acre project near the Ivanpah Solar site will serve 100,000 homes when completed. The project is on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, which is preparing its draft environmental impact statement for the project.

Adam Eventov, spokesman for First Solar, said the meeting will include an overview of the project, a public comments portion and a moderated question and answer session.

The meeting will be Sept. 19, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Barstow Hampton Inn at 2710 Lenwood Road.

Land exchange bill heads to governor’s desk

The California Assembly passed a bill that allows a state agency to trade land with the federal government for alternative energy projects.

AB 982 — passed Sept. 1 — would give the California State Lands Commission the ability to facilitate land exchanges with the Department of Interior. This would result in one entity owning desert land to make it easier for alternative energy projects to be placed there.

Curtis Fossum, executive director of the State Lands Commission, said the federal government entrusted the commission with various land across the state to be developed or sold. For example, Home Depot purchased the land from the commission to build its Barstow store.

Fossum said commission owns land in the desert that is too far away to be used commercially but is mixed in with land that the federal government owns. Through the bill’s required memorandum of understanding with the Department of the Interior, the state can exchange the land with the federal government so that whole areas can then be owned by one agency — either state or federal — making it easier for energy projects to purchase the land.

“It gives us additional authority to consolidate parcels of land to be more useful for projects,” Fossum said.

The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-14) in February to create more energy projects and now heads to the governor to sign.

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