California Solar Energy Projects

California’s electric utility companies are required to using renewable energy to produce 20 percent of their power by 2010 and 33 percent by 2020. A main source of renewable power will be solar energy.

Many large solar energy projects are being proposed in California’s desert area on federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. BLM has received right-of-way requests encompassing more than 300,000 acres for the development of approximately 34 large solar thermal power plants totaling approximately 24,000 megawatts. This number of projects have not yet reached the stage of an Application for Certification (AFC) with the California Energy Commission.

Solar thermal projects (above 50 MW) will require approvals from both the BLM and the Energy Commission prior to construction. Therefore, to provide joint National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review and a more efficient process, the BLM and Energy Commission have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (PDF file, 14 pages, 140 kb). This MOU also has attachments listing the solar projects the BLM is aware of (as of July 2007) and the time line for the joint review process.

graphic link to PDF file of BLM map showing locations of proposed large solar facilities.

Download “at a glance” map
of Large Solar Projects
graphic link to PDF file of BLM map showing locations of proposed large solar facilities.

Download map of BLM
Solar Energy Project Applications

This Web section will provide information about projects that have filed applications under the Energy Commission’s jurisdiction (thermal power plant projects 50 MW or larger).

 

 

Solar Thermal Projects Under Review
As of December 15, 2010
Arranged by Date Application For Certification Was Filed

Project Name
and Applicant
Location Size & Technology
(megawatts)
Lead Agency Status*
Victorville 2 Hybrid Power Project
City of Victorville
Victorville 563 MW


513 MW natural gas
50 MW solar trough

Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC filed 2/28/07
Approved 7/16/08
Beacon Solar Energy Project
Beacon Solar LLC
Kern County 250 MW
solar trough
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC filed 3/14/08
Approved 8/25/2010
Abengoa Mojave Solar Project
Abengoa Solar Inc.
San Bernardino County 250 MW
solar trough
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC Filed 8/10/2009
Approved 9/8/2010
Solar Millennium Blythe
Solar Millennium LLC
Riverside County 1,000 MW
solar trough
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC Filed 8/24/2009
Approved 9/15/2010
Ivanpah Solar
Solar Partners/Brightsource
San Bernardino County 370 MW
solar tower
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC filed 8/31/2007
Approved 9/22/2010
Imperial Valley Solar Project (Formerly SES Solar Two Project)
Imperial Valley Solar LLC
Imperial County 709 MW
Stirling engine
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC filed 6/30/2008
Approved 9/29/2010
Genesis Solar
Genesis Solar LLC / NextEra™ Energy Resources LLC
Riverside County 250 MW
solar trough
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC Filed 8/31/2009
Approved 9/29/2010
Calico Solar Project (Formerly SES Solar One Project)
Calico Solar LLC/Tessera Solar (formerly Stirling Energy Systems)
San Bernardino County 663.5 MW
Stirling engine
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC Filed 12/2/2008
Approved 10/28/2010
Solar Millennium Palen
Solar Millennium LLC
Riverside County 500 MW
solar trough
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC Filed 8/24/2009
Approved 12/15/2010
Rice Solar Energy Project
Rice Solar LLC / SolarReserve LLC
Riverside County 150 MW
central tower
Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC Filed 10/21/2009
Approved 12/15/2010
City of Palmdale Hybrid Gas-Solar
City of Palmdale
Palmdale 570 MW


520 MW natural gas
50 MW solar trough

Energy Commission APPROVED
AFC Filed 8/4/08
Approved 8/10/2011
Projects Approved – MW 4242.5 MW
Carrizo Energy Solar Farm
Carrizo Energy LLC
San Luis Obispo County Withdrawn Energy Commission Withdrawn
San Joaquin Solar 1 & 2 
San Joaquin Solar LLC
Fresno County Withdrawn Energy Commission Withdrawn
Solar Millennium Ridgecrest
Solar Millennium
Kern County 250 MW
solar trough
Energy Commission Under Review
AFC Filed 9/1/2009
Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System
BrightSource Energy Inc.
Inyo County 500 MW
central tower
Energy Commission Under Review
AFC Filed 8/5/2011
Projects Under Review – MW 750 MW
* AFC = Application For Certification is the license application filed with California Energy Commission for thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger.

Background

California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) was established by Senate Bill 1078 (Sher, Chapter 516, Statutes of 2002). It required the state’s retail sellers of electricity – investor-owned utilities (IOUs), electric service providers (ESPs), and community choice aggregators (CCAs) – to procure 20 percent of their retail electricity sales with eligible sources of renewable energy by 2017. California’s energy agencies subsequently committed to achieving the 20 percent target by 2010; seven years earlier than the target.

This 20 percent target was codified by the enactment of Senate Bill 107 (Simitian and Perata, Chapter 464, Statutes of 2006), which took effect on January 1, 2007. A higher, more ambitious goal was initially set, by the Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Commission in the Energy Action Plan, at 33 percent renewables by 2017, but Governor Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order of November 2008 set the goal at 33 percent by 2020. For information on regulations for meeting the 33 percent renewable energy target, see the ARB’s Renewable Electricity Standard page.

In creating the RPS, the Legislature underscored the importance of increasing the diversity, reliability, public health, and environmental benefits of the energy mix.

For more about the Renewables Portfolio Standard, please go to the Energy Commission’s website page at: www.energy.ca.gov/portfolio/.

Earlier Large, Solar Projects Producing Power

Prior to the Renewable Portfolio Standards in 2002, 13 solar thermal power projects were planned in California, with 11 of those filing applications with the Energy Commission. Nine projects (Solar Energy Generating Station – SEGS I to IX), totaling 354 MW, were built. SEGS III to IX are owned by NextEra™ Energy Resources (formerly FPL Energy), and SEGS I and II are owned by Cogentrix Solar Services – a wholly owned subsidiary of Cogentrix Energy LLC (Charlotte, NC), which purchased former owner Sunray Energy Inc. in early 2009.

One large photovoltaic (PV) array was built by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District near its Rancho Seco Nuclear Plant. It went on line in August 1984 and has an installed capacity of 3.19 MW.

 

Project Name Capacity In MW CEC Docket Number Location County Date Certified On-Line Date
SOLAR 100 110.0 81-AFC-4 San Bernardino 12/29/82 Never built – land use issues
Luz SEGS I
Solar/Nat Gas
13.8 Local Jurisdiction
Under 50 MW
Daggett San Bernardino 12/20/84
Luz SEGS II
Solar/Nat Gas
30 Local Jurisdiction
Under 50 MW
Daggett San Bernardino 12/31/85
Luz SEGS III-VII
Solar/Nat Gas)
150.0

5 X 30 MW

87-AFC-1 Kramer Junction San Bernardino 5/25/88 2/1/89
Luz SEGS VIII
Solar/Nat Gas
80.0 88-AFC-1 Harper Dry Lake San Bernardino 3/29/89 12/1/89
Luz SEGS IX
Solar/Nat Gas
80.0 89-AFC-1 Harper Dry Lake San Bernardino 2/14/90 10/1/90
Luz SEGS X
Solar/Nat Gas
80.0 89-AFC-1 Harper Dry Lake San Bernardino Suspended
5/13/1992
Construction halted – company bankruptcy
Luz SEGS XI
Solar/Nat Gas
80.0 89-AFC-2 Harper Dry Lake San Bernardino Suspended
5/13/1992
Never built – company bankruptcy
Luz SEGS XII
Solar/Nat Gas
80.0 91-AFC-1 Harper Dry Lake San Bernardino Suspended
5/13/1992
Never built – company bankruptcy
Solar One

and

Solar Two

10.0 n/a Daggett San Bernardino n/a The Solar One central tower research facility was completed in 1981 and was operational from 1982 to 1986.
Solar Two added more mirrors and was operational from 1995 to 1999.

Aerial view of Solar Two facility in Daggett, Calif.

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