Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mojave Solar Project Gets Initial Green Light With Assistance From Rosamond and California City

The Antelope Valley Press recently reported a potential approval of a $950 million Solar Plant in Mojave Ca. The plant is proposed on 2000 acres off of Hwy 14. The California Energy Commission has given a 30 day period for public opinion on the proposed project. The issue that may halt the project is its need for fourteen hundred acres of water per year, as water is scarce in the desert. The proposal from the developer is to use treated water and or sewage water from the two local communities of Rosamond and California City. E-Solar has proposed a similar solution for their facility in Lancaster, Ca. E-Solar proposes to use runoff and treated water and further naturally treat it on 100 acres in Fox Field. The Mojave Solar project requires water because it relies on a solar thermal design by using mirrors to capture and reflect the suns raze to a network of tubes. Liquid in the tubes is heated thus in turn powers a steam turbine that produces electricity. The AVPress indicates that officials in the city of Rosamond and California City have agreed to supply the treated water.

This project will be at least the fifth new solar power project in the Antelope Valley in the last two years, clearly making the valley a developing green zone. The project appears to have the approval of the Energy Committee, and local city officials. It is miles from any real development, so there will likely not be much residential disapproval. Once the project gets the green light then it would take two years to construct and would employ just over fifty full time employees. It will likely be the only development for tens of miles.

This type of land currently sells for below two thousand an acre showing that the developer has been cost conscious. All of this land is simply desert land and zoned rural residential and agricultural use, but there is nothing that grows in this type of environment. Without solar this area would have very slow growth. We are encouraged by the development, but we wouldn’t recommend buying this land so far north of California City. It would be better to be closer to a growing area like Rosamond or Lancaster Ca.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mega Wind Project Set To Get Underway Near Mojave Desert

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that the Alta Wind Energy Center has broken ground. The reason this project is considered mega is how it started and the overall plan. It is considered the largest wind power project in the US today. The project has had multiple ownership changes since 2000, the original planner went bankrupt and it has not been well received by the local community. The developer Terra-Gen Power has since taken over the project and they have begun breaking ground for the 290 turbines over the nine thousand acres along the Tehachapi Pass. They have also secured over a billion in funding, and are set to receive turbines from Vestas-American Wind Technology. The plan is to provide power to six hundred thousand homes to Southern California Edison customers as they are compelled to meet the State goal of supplying thirty three percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The next faze will involve another 300 turbines by 2015 with potential wind blades being nearly a football field long. The entire project will dwarf the existing landscape of turbines along the pass. Most of this area is farm land along Hwy 58 tucked away among the mountains. Also most of the land is being leased for this project providing an income source and allowing future cattle grazing for farmers.

This type of land in the past sold for less than five hundred an acre not long ago. It was considered unusable or only suitable for agricultural use. It demonstrates that long term land investment can be a patient and lucrative endeavor. There is still an abundance of available vacant land in Kern County and Los Angeles County that is prime for industrial uses like Wind Energy Projects. Many wind tests and planning has been completed over the years, which verifies this area as a prime wind energy location. In this case the permitting process took three years and the project had numerous environment hurdles to overcome. In the end the Alta project will begin.