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Calico Solar Project, Stirling Energy Systems, CA

STATUS: In progress

TYPE: Solar

OPPOSITION: Senator Dianne Feinstein


BACKGROUND: On December 2, 2008, Stirling Energy Systems Solar One, LLC (“SES Solar Three LLC and SES Solar Six LLC”) submitted an Application for Certification (“AFC”) to construct and operate the Stirling Energy Systems Solar One Project (“SES Solar One”), a solar dish Stirling systems project in San Bernardino County, California.  In January 2010, the project formally changed its name to the Calico Solar Project. The applicant, SES Solar Three LLC, was merged into SES Solar Six LLC, and that surviving entity was re-named Calico Solar, LLC. Calico Solar is a subsidiary of Tessera Solar. The Calico project will employ 700 people at the peak of construction and will create 180 permanent operating jobs once it begins producing power.

There was great uncertainty surrounding this project in light of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s announcement of plans to introduce legislation that would set aside hundreds of thousands of acres of the Mojave Desert for a national monument and prevent wind and solar development in the area. The monument would occupy land between the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park known as the former Catellus lands. The land features desert tortoise habitat, wildlife corridors, cactus gardens.  The project had to be scaled back in size from 850 MW being produced on more than 8,200 acres to 663.5-MW on 6,215 acres, in order to protect the habitat for the bighorn sheep and the threatened desert tortoise.

On October 28, 2010, the California Energy Commission approved the project’s application for certification.  Although construction will take approximately 40 months to complete, renewable power will be available to the grid as each 60-unit group is completed.  The project should be fully functional by late 2011. 

SOURCES: California.gov:  http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/calicosolar/index.html;
LA Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/25/nation/na-desert25;
Penn Energy: http://www.pennenergy.com/index/power/display/1530842932/articles/pennenergy/power/renewable/2010/11/cec-approves_663_5mw.html;
Letter by Senator Feinstein: http://www.cadesertco.org/Feinstein_PR_3_18_09.pdf;
Get Solar: http://www.getsolar.com/blog/green-means-go-for-tesseras-calico-solar-plant/13578/

Last updated November 5, 2010