California Races to the Solar Stimulus Finish Line

In order to qualify for Federal stimulus money renewable energy projects must be approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies and meet other requirements by December 31, 2010—or else.  The California Energy Commission is in a race to finish its work on as many projects as possible in order to leave no potential funding behind.

The CEC has approved more than 1,000 MW of solar projects in the past few weeks to accelerate this process.   On September 15, 2010, the CEC approved the 1000Mw Blythe project billed as the world’s largest solar project.

Since August 2010, the CEC has approved 3,000 megawatts of solar.

California designed to meet the 20% by 2010 renewable energy target and push forward toward achieving the 33% goal by 2020.  Approving these project not only assures that the Federal stimulus money will be awarded to complete them but also protects them against the risk that voters might approve Proposition 23 in the November 2010 election suspending AB32 and with it much of the authority to press forward beyond the 20% RPS embedded in law to get to 33% set in the Governor Executive Order.

Here is a list of the recent approvals from the CEC website:

California Energy Commission Solar Project Approvals

Project Name and Applicant Location Size & Technology
Victorville 2 Hybrid Power Project
City of Victorville
Victorville 563 MW total:

513 MW nat gas
50 MW solar trough

Beacon Solar Energy Project
Beacon Solar LLC
Kern County 250 MW
solar trough
Abengoa Mojave Solar Project
Abengoa Solar Inc.
San Bernardino County 250 MW
solar trough
Solar Millennium Blythe
Solar Millennium LLC


1,000 MW
solar trough
Ivanpah Solar
Solar Partners/Brightsource
San Bernardino County 400 MW
solar tower
Genesis Solar
Genesis Solar LLC / NextEra™ Energy Resources LLC


250 MW
solar trough
Imperial Valley Solar Project          (Formerly SES Solar Two Project)
Imperial Valley Solar LLC


750 MW
Stirling engine


Projects Approved – MW 2950 MW APPROVED

Another 2,000 MW of solar projects are in the CEC queue but not all of them will qualify for Federal Stimulus funding nor get through the tedious review and approval process by year end 2010.

While these projects are utility-scale, California also have an aggressive solar rooftop program designed to encourage residents to go solar at home too. The California Solar Initiative (CSI) is part of the Go Solar California campaign funded with $3.3 billion in ratepayer money to install 3,000 MW of new grid-connected solar to reduce the Golden State’s dependence on fossil fuels.  You can track progress at the Go Solar website.

So what?

California is making a big investment in solar and other renewable energy technologies to live into its clean energy economy future.  So far ratepayers have not only approved of these initiatives but funded them with substantial sums.  Proposition 23 tests whether the weak economy and high unemployment rate combined with rising utility rates reduces support for these goals.