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State OKs solar project near Newberry Springs

Another large solar project proposed for public land near Barstow has left the state and federal permitting stage Thursday.

The 663.5 megawatt Calico Solar Project 17 miles east of Newberry Springs was approved by the California Energy Commission about a week after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management gave the project its approval. The project is expected to power about 500,000 homes.

Officials with Houston-based Tessera Solar are currently working to secure project financing, said company spokesman Janette Coates. The company is pursuing a loan through the U.S. Department of Energy. Officials also hope to apply for federal stimulus funds. To apply for those funds, the project needed to be approved by Dec. 31.

 “Financing will drive construction for us,” Coates said, adding company officials haven’t determined a start-date for the project’s construction.

Tessera Solar is contracted with Minneapolis-based construction company Mortenson Construction to build the project. The project is expected to create 700 construction jobs. Coates said local residents will be given priority when it comes to hiring for those jobs.

The size of the project had been reduced from 8,230 acres to 4,613, but Coates said Tessera still has a power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison for 850 megawatts.

Tessera officials are looking at satisfying its agreement by purchasing private land near the project.

At 850 megawatts, the project is worth $2.5 billion.

The California Energy Commission recently approved six other solar projects in the desert. The 250 megawatt Abengoa Mojave Solar plant near Hinkley was approved Sept. 8. The 370 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System near the Nevada border was approved Sept. 22. Construction for the Ivanpah project began Wednesday.

California’s goal is to have 33 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.

Contact the writer:

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


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