Largest C.S.P. project gets initial nod from California commission

Solar Millennium L.L.C., a subsidiary of Solar Trust of America, has received a crucial recommendation from the California Energy Commission endorsing its plan to build and operate the 968-megawatt Blythe solar power project in Riverside County, California.

The siting committee of the commission said that the concentrating solar power plant abides by applicable laws, regulations and standards in most environmental areas. The committee also found that the project’s potential benefits prevail over its environmental impacts.

Commissioners of California’s primary energy policy agency will make a final vote on recommendation in September following a public comment period.
The Blythe solar facility is a joint project between Solar Millennium and Chevron Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of oil giant Chevron Corporation (NYSE:
). The facility will consist of four independent solar power plants, each capable of generating 242 MW of energy.

The solar project will dwarf the generating capacity of the proposed 392-MW Ivanpah solar complex in Ivanpah, California, which was reported to become the world’s largest solar concentrating power once it is completed in 2013.

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The Blythe solar plant consists of solar parabolic mirrors that will redirect solar radiation to a receiver tube. A heat transfer fluid located inside the tube is heated to 750oF before it is poured through the pipes to generate high-pressure steam that will drive a steam turbine generator to produce electricity.
Separately, the California Public Utilities Commission approved Solar Millennium’s 20-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison, a subsidiary of Edison International (NSYE:
) for two of the solar power plants under the Blythe solar project.

“The recent approval of our power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison by the [California Public Utilities Commission] and this proposed decision by the [California Energy Commission] for our Blythe Solar Power Project are a crucial step towards completing the permitting process,” said Josef Eichhammer, president of Solar Trust of America and chief executive of Solar Millennium.

In July, Solar Millennium also signed a 20-year electric purchase agreement with Southern California Edison for the electricity generated by Solar Millennium’s 484-MW Palen solar power roject.

“We plan to receive all construction permits this fall and to finalize the financing for our first project, representing approximately 484 megawatts of generating capacity so that we can start construction by the end of this year,” Mr. Eichhammer continued.



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