U2 frontman Bono would be pleased.
Known for his social conscious and his admiration for the Joshua trees common in the desert Southwest, Bono would approve of the deal signed by EDF Renewable Energy to sell electricity from its 500 MW solar farm near the Joshua Tree National Park to Southern California Edision (SCE) under a 15-year power-purchase agreement (PPA).
The Maverick Solar project (formerly named Palen 1) is the fifth significant utility-scale solar plant in Riverside County, California, joining McCoy, Desert Sunlight, Genesis and Blythe.
SCE has asked the California Public Commisssion (CPUC) for approval of the PPA, and the CPUC has before it a resolution to do just that. It is currently scheduled for a vote on June 29.
Even after CPUC approval, however, EDF must wait for further approvals from Riverside County and the federal Bureau of Land Management, who are reviewing the potential environmental effects of the project. Those approvals are expected to come by the end of the year but are not guaranteed. As Sammy Roth of The Desert Sun reported:
As part of their environmental review process, the Bureau of Land Management and Riverside County are considering several alternatives to EDF’s proposal, including a smaller project that would span just 1,620 acres and avoid desert washes, riparian habitat and sand accumulations suitable for Mojave fringe-toed lizards. That configuration would also cut the project’s power potential in half, to just 230 megawatts.
SCE will purchase 125 MW-AC with enough power – 406 gigawatt-hours – to provide electricity for 60,000 average California homes. Though the total capacity for the plant could reach 500 MW, EDF can start construction with this first contract.
Riverside County is a hotbed for utility-scale development these days, with at least three other projects at different places in the development cycle. They include:
- SunPower 400 MW Arica project;
- Recurrent Energy‘s 350 MW Crimson project; and
- First Solar’s proposed 300 MW Desert Quartzite plant.
Update: This article was updated and corrected at 2:50 pm EST on 6/16/17 to:
- refer to Joshua Tree National Park by its correct name;
- put Riverside County AND Joshua Tree National Park back in California where they belong
- give credit to the incomparable Sammy Roth (@sammy_roth) at The Desert Sun by linking to his story that inspired ours. You should read his work AFTER you read ours. He’s that good.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? We apologize for the errors.
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I am pleased the BLM is watching for environmental impact. In reality, it’s better to simply place all this solar on rooftops rather than destroy desert habitat and suffer great energy loss in transmission lines.
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