Mojave desert’s Abengoa solar plant gains approval


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California is that much closer to 4,300 more megawatts of solar power after state regulators on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to the Abengoa Mojave Solar Project.

The 250-megawatt project is expected to start construction by the end of 2010, which would make it eligible for a slice of the federal stimulus funds that eight other California solar proposals are aiming for.


The California Energy Commission unanimously approved construction on the Abengoa proposal, as it did in late August for the 250-megawatt Beacon Solar Energy Project. Next week, the 1,000-megawatt Blythe Solar Power Project is up for consideration.

The Abengoa project is slated for more than 1,700 acres of private land in San Bernardino County, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. During construction, 1,200 jobs will be created and 80 permanent jobs will remain, the company said.

The project, which will start producing energy commercially by early 2013, will rely on technology where the sun hits curved parabolic mirrors that will heat fluid. The resulting steam will help run generators that will produce electricity.

A subsidiary of Abengoa Solar Inc., itself a subsidiary of Spanish behemoth Abengoa, will manage the project. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has signed a power purchase agreement for electricity from the project.

In early July, President Obama announced a $1.45-billion federal loan guarantee for Abengoa to construct its 250-megawatt Solana project southwest of Phoenix. California, meanwhile, is pushing investor-owned utilities to glean 33% of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

-- Tiffany Hsu