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Fort Irwin solar project a priority for Army

FORT IRWIN • Solar projects in Fort Irwin could be put on a fast track by a new Army task force for energy initiatives.

The Army announced earlier this month the creation of an Energy Initiatives Office Task Force that will serve as the central office for any large-scale Army renewable energy projects. The task force is part of the Army’s goal of using 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Dave Foster from the Army’s public affairs office in Washington, D.C., wrote in an e-mail that projects in Fort Irwin will be high priority when the task force begins mid-September. Fort Irwin currently has plans for 10-20 megawatts of photovoltaic panels at the front gate, with a projected finish date of mid-2014.

“The Army is looking to expedite the completion process sooner than 2014,” Foster said.
Fort Irwin spokesman Gus Bahena did not return calls for comment.

Injunction against Ivanpah Solar denied

A judge denied a preliminary injunction against the construction of Ivanpah Solar Project, but the Western Watersheds Project has appealed the decision.

The Western Watersheds Project filed for a preliminary injunction in January against the 392 megawatt solar complex near the California/Nevada border that would serve more than 140,000 homes. The organization argues the complex threatens thousands of tortoises in the area. A study by the Bureau of Land Management in April estimates that more than 1,099 adult tortoises and 2,000 juveniles will be disturbed because of the project.

Michael Connor, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, said the injunction was denied two weeks ago and the non-profit has already filed an appeal. The injunction was heard Aug. 1 in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California.

Keely Wachs, spokesman for Bright Source Energy, which owns Ivanpah, said the decision “allows California to continue making meaningful progress on its clean energy goals.”

State responds to complaints about Calico project

The California Energy Commission says BNSF Railways’s complaint against Calico Solar lacks merit because of changing circumstances for the 663.5 megawatt project.

BNSF Railway filed a complaint in mid-July against the project planned 17 miles east of Newberry Springs and argued that Calico has violated conditions of its application.

Specifically, BNSF wrote that Calico misrepresented its ability to use a new technology called “SunCatcher” that hadn’t been used on a utility scale. Calico’s application original included a plan for 20,000 SunCatchers but three weeks after being certified by the California Energy Commission, Calico transferred ownership from Tessera Solar North America to K-Road Power, a company that concentrated on photovoltaic energy. Calico will generate energy for 350,000 homes when completed.

The Commission writes Calico has only violated one condition of its application and that the one condition is not enough to revoke Calico’s certification. The response said Calico violated the condition that Calico submit quarterly reports, but Calico was unable to retrieve data from Tessera Solar that it needed to submit such reports once the project changed ownership.

The response also said that BNSF never specified which conditions of the application Calico had violated, and that the burden is on BNSF to make those clear in a complaint.

“Because the complaint lacks a statement indicating which conditions of the certification have been violated, the complaint... is insufficient.”

Sean Gallagher, K Road's managing director of government and regulatory affairs, said the response from Commission staff is not an official rejection of BNSF’s complaint, but s meant to advise the two-member Commission team that makes decisions regarding Calico’s compliance.

Representatives from BNSF did not return calls for comment.

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