Jan 15 California energy regulators said on
Wednesday they have approved NextEra Energy Inc's plan
to use a different solar technology at its proposed $1.13
billion Blythe solar power plant, moving the 485-megawatt
project a step closer to construction.
By a 5-0 vote, the Energy Commission agreed to allow NextEra
to switch to solar photovoltaic technology from a previously
approved solar parabolic-trough system.
"The project will spur California's transition to renewable
energy and help advance its aggressive climate change goals,"
Commissioner Karen Douglas, the presiding member of the
committee reviewing the Blythe project, said in a statement.
Officials at NextEra were not immediately available for
comment on the company's planned next steps.
In December, the committee reviewing Blythe found the
project may have "environmental impacts that are cumulatively
significant when considered along with the impacts of other
projects in the region."
But the committee found 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.
In September 2010, the Energy Commission approved the
1,000-MW Blythe solar project for a site located about eight
miles (13 km) west of Blythe in eastern Riverside County on
7,043 acres (2,850 hectares) of federal public land managed by
the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.
Solar Millennium, which went bankrupt at the end of 2011,
filed an amendment with the commission in June 2012 to switch to
the project to solar photovoltaic technology.
In April 2013, the project owner, NextEra, filed a revised
amendment to reduce the project's physical size and generation
NextEra's amended 485-MW project would be developed on 4,070
acres of Bureau of Land Management land in four phases, with the
first three consisting of 125 MW and the fourth generating 110
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. It will take about 15 employees to operate
the plant once it enters service.