California Energy Commission grants initial approval for 968MW Blythe Solar Power Project

Source: Solar Trust of America, LLC

Solar Trust of America has announced that its project development subsidiary, Solar Millennium, LLC, has received a proposed decision from the California Energy Commission (CEC) granting the license to build and operate its Blythe Solar Power Project in Riverside County, which would be the largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) facility in the world. The recommendation marks an important milestone in the company’s efforts to obtain final approval to build the four 242-megawatt plants, totaling 968 megawatts of generating capacity, in Riverside County.

The CEC has determined that the planned facility complies with all applicable laws and regulations. BSPP would employ dry-cooled technology and would use 90 percent less water than previous plant designs, primarily for mirror washing, feed water and onsite domestic use.

The proposed decision is scheduled to be considered for vote by the CEC Commissioners in September following a public comment period.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently approved Solar Millennium, LLC’s power purchase agreement (PPA) with Southern California Edison (SCE) for two 242-megawatt (MW) solar power plants planned in Blythe, California. The agreement regulates SCE's purchase of electricity produced by the facilities for 20 years from the start of operations. Solar Millennium, LLC has two PPA’s in place with Southern California Edison.

Uwe T. Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer of Solar Trust of America and Chairman of Solar Millennium, LLC, said the licensing recommendation is another positive indication of California’s goals regarding the use of renewable energy and the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requiring electricity providers to increase the use of renewable energy to 20 percent this year and up to 33 percent by 2020.

“We are extremely pleased with the CEC’s recommendation and efforts to accelerate the approval process for our Blythe project,” said Schmidt. “Our nation’s clean energy development initiatives are at a critical crossroads, and we expect to be a leading force in helping California meet its renewable energy goals and provide a significant boost to the state’s economy.”

Josef Eichhammer, President of Solar Trust of America and CEO of Solar Millennium LLC, said, "The recent approval of our power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison by the CPUC and this proposed decision by the CEC for our Blythe Solar Power Project are a crucial step towards completing the permitting process. We believe that we will obtain the record of decision for the construction permit by the Bureau of Land Management for Blythe following the issuance of the CEC license. 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.”

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