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home : latest news : local February 6, 2016

1/29/2014 6:00:00 AM
Energy Commission approves NextEra $1.13 billion solar project
Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy
Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy
Special to the Times

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission gave NextEra Blythe Solar Energy Center, LLC the greenlight for a $1.13 billion solar project Jan. 15.

By a 5-0 vote, the Energy Commission adopted the presiding member's proposed decision (PMPD) giving the petitioner, NextEra Blythe Solar Energy Center, LLC, permission to switch technologies from the solar parabolic-trough to a solar photovoltaic (PV) plant.

"The project will spur California's transition to renewable energy and help advance its aggressive climate change goals," said Commissioner Karen Douglas who is the presiding member of the committee reviewing the Blythe Solar Power Project Amendment.

In its PMPD released Dec. 13, 2013, the Blythe Solar Power Project Amendment Committee said the project, as mitigated, may have environmental impacts that are cumulatively significant when considered along with the impacts of other projects in the region. The cumulative impacts that cannot be mitigated to less than significant levels are impacts to biological resources, cultural resources, land use, and visual resources.

The committee found that the project benefits, including its contribution to meeting California's Renewables Portfolio Standard, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating nearly 500 peak construction jobs, and boosting the economy-justify an override of those impacts.

Commissioner David Hochschild served as associate member for the Blythe Solar Power Project Amendment Committee.

The PMPD for the project amendment was based solely on the record of facts established during the facility's amendment proceedings.

In September 2010, the Energy Commission approved the 1,000-MW Blythe Solar Power Project for a site located about eight miles west of Blythe in eastern Riverside County on 7,043 acres of federal public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The original project owner, Palo Verde Solar I, LLC, a subsidiary of Solar Millennium, filed an amendment with the commission in June 2012 to switch to solar PV. The commission has no jurisdiction over wind or PV projects but commission review was allowed by the Legislature under Senate Bill 226 for a limited category of projects approved on BLM land in 2010.

In April of 2013, the new project owner filed a revised amendment to reduce the project's physical size and generation capacity. The amended 485-MW project would be developed on 4,070 acres of BLM land in four phases, with the first three consisting of 125 MW and the fourth generating 110 MW. The project will also require a revised right-of-way grant from the BLM.

Construction on the project is expected to last 48 months. There would be an average of 341 employees during construction, with a peak of 499. Fifteen operational employees would be needed. The estimated capital construction cost is $1.13 billion, according to the project owner.

Related Stories:
• California releases proposed decisions on two solar projects
• Evidentiary hearing for Blythe Solar Power Project scheduled for Nov. 19

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2014
Article comment by: (deleted)

$1.3BILLION, someone got taken. It will take a LONG time to recover this money back. And also they add very little jobs and most will be miniscule jobs. Blythe started to die about 2000 and now its in decay. I loved the Old Blythe!

Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Article comment by: Steve Palermo

@ZEEB: Right now the homeowner has the best chance of installing solar PV for the least cost. There are still tax incentives brought along from legislation from the million solar roofs initiative. The big tax incentive is the Federal 30% allowed credit for the cost of the installed system. For a 30K solar PV system that's 9K off of your Federal taxes, this expires 12/31/16 unless it is extended by Congress. This FTC of 30% can also be used by the homeowner for "energy efficiency" upgrades to one's home. Double, triple pane windows, extra insulation, high efficiency appliances, like SEER 18 and above air conditioning units or even Geothermal heating and cooling systems. Take a look at the Government site: and see what programs are available to the homeowner.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Concerned Blythian Zeeb

I for one think this will be good for the city. It will help the under and unemployed. The sun is there use it. Some cities are building their own solar plants, to be used only by the homes in their cities, not shipped on down to Los Angeles. People who rent the panels are getting ripped off. It is only a real savings when you buy your own panels outright. Plus you must use $2400 dollars of electricity per year to qualify. They won't tell you what you have to pay them.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Believe me, I hope you are right on this, but I see no hope here. When I see other Cities along the river or near here growing and Blythe dying, well you know somethings are not right,

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: Steve Palermo

@EL PICA BUYAS: There's still hope for this project and maybe even the McCoy project. There have been many concerns with the two concentrating solar plants to be built, they may not make the cut. The Government put aside monies for alternative energy resources until December 31 of 2016. There is still a money pool available. After that Congress will have to revisit their position on alternative energy and if there is a need to set aside funds for its installation. In one of the most recent City Council minutes, the items for city permits was 44. Out of 44 permits 20 were for the installation of solar PV on homeowners roofs. My position always has been, if you are going use solar PV it is best installed where it will be used, right on the homeowners roof. You see these articles about these huge projects stating something like they can power about 150,000 homes. You're better off installing a 4 to 6KW peak system on the roof of 150,000 homes.

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Anyone ever hear that saying? It will be a cold day way deep south when this plant is built. They said how much it will cost and how long it will take to build it. But when will they start on the project?

My bet is that they will have money problems. Or right now they are thinking of selling this off to some other company. Because it took so long to get to where they are right now.

Blythe is Cursed.

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