Jan 15 California energy regulators said on
Wednesday they approved NextEra Energy Inc's plan to use
a different technology at its proposed $1.13 billion Blythe
solar power plant, moving the 485-megawatt project a step closer
In a 5-0 vote, the Energy Commission agreed to allow NextEra
to switch to solar photovoltaic technology from the 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.
NextEra spokesman Steve Stengel said in an email the company
is still seeking approvals for the project from the U.S. Bureau
of Land Management and is still looking for a company to buy the
power from the proposed project.
NextEra wants to build the project on federal public land
controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.
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's expected benefits -
including a contribution to meeting California's Renewables
Portfolio Standard, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the
creation of nearly 500 peak construction jobs, and a boost to
the economy -- justify an override of those environmental
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.
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
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 land in four phases, with the first three consisting of
125 MW and the fourth generating 110 MW.
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.