The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved the construction of two solar power plants in California, the first of nine solar projects that could get the go-ahead to begin construction by the end of the year and thereby qualify for federal tax credits. BLM issued permits for the 709 MW Imperial Valley Solar Project, a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant that Tessara Solar is developing near the municipality of Ocotillo, and the 45 MW Lucerne Valley Solar Project, a photovoltaic (PV) plant under development by Chevron Energy Solutions in San Bernardino County’s Lucerne Valley. BLM was the lead agency on the Chevron project, while the Tessara project required, and received, prior approval from the California Energy Commission (CEC).
CEC has been moving on a fast track to approve solar power projects in California, having given its go-ahead for six projects, amounting to 2,829 MW of capacity, over the past two months. “I think this is breakthrough year for renewables in California,” Michael Picker, a member of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s staff, told the Los Angeles Times on October 5. “I can count about 5,000 megawatts of renewables, most of which will be online in a few years,” said Picker, who serves as the governor’s point man on wind and solar energy development in California.