For Immediate Release: March 30, 2010
Media Contact: Percy Della - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission, Bureau of Land Management release
joint environmental document on Calico Solar Project

SACRAMENTO - The public comment period has started for a joint environmental document for the Calico Solar Project in San Bernardino County.

The staff of the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management today completed and released a combined Staff Assessment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SA/DEIS) for Tessera Solar's proposed solar thermal plant (Calico Solar Project).

The entire document is available at:

With a capacity to generate approximately 850 megawatts, the facility would help meet California's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and producing 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The Energy Commission works jointly with the BLM in reviewing applications for solar thermal power plants 50 MW and greater proposed on federal land. The Calico Solar Project proposed on approximately 8,230 acres of federally managed land 37 miles east of Barstow requires both federal and state approval.

In October 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a memo of understanding with U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to help expedite permitting renewable energy projects in California. Working under this cooperative agreement, the Energy Commission and the BLM, since February 12, 2010, have completed the SA/DEIS for six thermal solar projects with a combined capacity of 3,600 megawatts of renewable power - Genesis, Ridgecrest, Palen, Blythe, Imperial, and Calico solar projects. Additionally, the Energy Commission has released the SA for Abengoa, a proposed 250 megawatt solar thermal facility not located on federal land.

The comment period for the Calico Solar Project SA/DEIS will end 90 days after the publication of a Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register beginning April 2, 2010.

While not a final decision on the project, the SA/DEIS serves as commission staff's testimony and recommended mitigation measures during the evidentiary hearings phase on the proposed project.

After the evidentiary hearings, Energy Commission staff and the BLM will release a Supplemental Staff Assessment/Final Environmental Impact Statement (SAA/FEIS). The Energy Commission will then publish the presiding member's proposed decision (PMPD). The PMPD will be available for public review and comment, after which the full Energy Commission renders a final decision and the federal government issues its record of decision (ROD) and land use plan amendment on the proposed project. If the project is approved, BLM will issue a right of way (ROW) grant to the applicant, and implement its plan amendment. The decisions are currently expected this year.

The Calico Solar Project would include the approximately 34,000, 25-kilowatt solar dish Stirling systems (referred to as SunCatchers), their associated equipment and systems, and their support infrastructure. Each SunCatcher consists of a solar receiver heat exchanger and a closed-cycle, high-efficiency Solar Stirling Engine specifically designed to convert solar power to rotary power then driving an electrical generator to produce grid-quality electricity.

If approved, construction for the facility would occur for four years and employ approximately 393 workers a day, peaking at 703 workers at some point during the construction period. Operation of the plant would employ 164 full time employees.

For more information on Governor Schwarzenegger's Executive Order to advance the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards, go to:

# # #