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Another hitch for Ivanpah project

Tortoise release begins; hawk nests found

BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah solar project near Primm, Nev. hit a snag this week when at least five pairs of red-tailed hawks were found nesting too close to planned new Southern California Edison power lines meant to deliver electricity from the massive plant.

Edison crews will have to wait until after hawk nesting season in October to complete the lines, officials said.

Separately, the company’s biologists released a group of desert tortoises this week. The company previously released some tortoises last year. The animals can only be released in the fall and spring when the temperature is between 65 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

The tortoises undergo comprehensive medical assessments to make sure that the animal is healthy and does not carry a common and potentially fatal respiratory disease before they are released.

The company has spent about $22 million to confine about 150 tortoises in order to comply with environmental regulations.

Change could be boon for solar users

A proposed state Public Utilities Commission decision could make it easier for consumers who have solar panels installed at their homes to save money.

The commission recently proposed changing the way utilities calculate the amount of energy savings customers have incurred by using their solar panels. Utilities make these calculations when they determine how much to remove from consumers’ bills as a result of the solar power generation.

The change would require the utilities to use aggregate customer peak demand. Currently, utilities use a combination of different measurements and instead compare the solar system’s generation to the maximum energy demand on the utility’s entire system — a higher figure.

The alternate calculation is a formula that is more favorable to consumers, according to the draft of the proposed regulation.

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