Friday, June 1, 2012

Desert Tortoise Bighorn Sheep and Environmentalists get bypassed by California Legislators Bill SB 226 in favor of Calico Solar Project

The Los Angeles Times reports that under this bill SB 226, which was approved by the Senate in March and passed 56 to 10 in the Assembly, Calico Solar may now go directly to the California Energy Commission with its application for approval. The bill is expected to be approved by Governor Brown as the administration lobbied for the bill. K Road acquired the project from Tessera. It was planned to be an over 8000 acre 850 megawatt project but has since been reduced to 4600 acre 663 megawatt project 37 miles east of Barstow, Ca. It is just north of Hwy 40. The project needs quick action as it faces a June 30 deadline for approval from the Energy Commission. Funny enough according to the LA Times Calico Solar doesn’t have a power purchase agreement with an energy company, nor financing and it doesn’t even have a construction date. The Times reports that with the California government approval, the project will be an acquisition target for a solar firm. Today, Calico Solar has no power purchase agreement with a utility, no financing and no construction start date, and it faces a lawsuit by environmentalists. But with the Energy Commission's approval, the project could become an attractive acquisition for a big solar developer. Environmentalists have since filed a suit over the project. It is perplexing how this project has moved along so fast, since at the same time the Dept. of Fish and Game instituted mitigation cuts. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced in March that budget cuts had temporarily stopped the agency’s ability to review and approve new mitigation banking proposals statewide. The State budget cuts have created a backlog and the Department has slowed the process. The Desert Tortoise, Nelson Bighorn Sheep, and ground squirrel are all endangered species and live in San Bernardino County and on the Calico Project. The tortoise was removed before from Bright Source Ivanpah, Ca. Project already. This is strange timing with the reduction in mitigation approvals and this solar projects bill passing. California is clearly a Blue State and they have pushed for alternative energy for years. But this also pushes out endangered species and environmentalists which have been a political talking point on California Democratic Campaigns. It goes against the Democrats policies, and they have full control California State Government. We have been helping a number of firms in acquiring mitigation land in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. This would have clearly been a mitigation land site. There is vast available land in Northern Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County where solar projects can thrive along with the tortoise. We can help pinpoint locations where mitigation and solar can co-exist.

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