Solar Trust of America today announced that its project development subsidiary, Solar Millennium, LLC, has received unanimous approval from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build and operate its Blythe Solar Power Project in Riverside County, which would be the largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) facility in the world. Combined, the four 250 MW plants will deliver 1,000 MW of nominal generating capacity, or enough electricity to power more than 300,000 homes annually. Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year.
Uwe T. Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Solar Trust of America and Executive Chairman of Solar Millennium, LLC, said the company is eager to commence work on this project and demonstrate its potential as a driver of economic and environmental progress.
Having received formal approval from the California Energy Commission, the project must now secure a Record of Decision approving the project’s Right of Way Grant from the Federal Bureau of Land Management, which is expected this fall. The company is also actively pursuing completion of financing with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program for the first phase of the project, representing approximately 500 MW of generating capacity.
Converting the high-intensity solar radiation of the California desert into electricity will bring a host of environmental benefits to the state. Once constructed, the solar project will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately two million tons per year, or the equivalent of removing more than 300,000 cars from the road. Additionally, because the power plant is “dry-cooled”, it will use 90 percent less water than a traditional “wet-cooled” solar facility of this size. It will also help California take a major step toward achieving its goal of having one third of the state’s power come from renewable sources by the year 2020.
In addition to environmental benefits, the project will provide a substantial boost to the Riverside County economy. The project will generate approximately 2,500 jobs during the construction period and create more than 200 permanent jobs once the 1,000 MW facility is fully operational.
Local officials were among the coalition supporting the project throughout its approval process because of the significant environmental and economic benefits.