Mojave Solar Thermal Plant Approved
As the deadline for federal stimulus funds looms, the California Energy Commission is rushing to approve several solar plant proposals. In the last 30 days, the Commission approved construction of four new solar power plants. The newest plant, BrightSource Energy’s 370-MW Ivanpah solar project, will be located in the Mojave Desert, and construction could begin as early as this fall, reports the LA Times. The Ivanpah plant will be the first commercial solar plant on federal land, if it is approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
BrightSource Energy has struggled with environmentalists over Ivanpah, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Advocacy groups including the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity claim plant construction will degrade desert tortoise habitat, according to the article. However, the CA Energy Commission decided in a unanimous vote that the benefits of the plant outweigh the environmental costs--construction of the plant will bring jobs to the region, and the energy created will help the state meet its renewable energy standards and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Ivanpah, combined with the previously approved solar plants—the Beacon, Mojave and Blythe projects (see the Mercury News map), will generate 1,870 MW of energy. Five more plants are still awaiting approval, and would bring the total amount of energy produced to 4,300 MW.