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San Bernardino solar installation approved

October 28, 2010 |  9:07 pm

In two months, the California Energy Commission has blazed through seven solar power plant proposals, giving them the go-ahead to start construction in the desert.

The most recent, the 664-megawatt Calico Solar Project planned for San Bernardino County, was unanimously cleared Thursday. Regulators from the federal Bureau of Land Management issued their own approval last week.

The state has more than 270 renewable-energy projects in the works that together would total about 70,000 megawatts of clean power.

The proposal now joins other projects that, like the Blythe Solar Power Project, are gearing up to break ground or, like the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System Project, have already started.

The Calico project will employ 700 people at the peak of construction and will create 180 permanent operating jobs once it begins producing power. The SunCatcher solar dishes will sit on more than 4,600 acres of the Mojave Desert 37 miles east of Barstow.

Calico Solar is backing the project and had to scale back the size from 850 megawatts being produced on more than 8,200 acres to protect habitat for the bighorn sheep and the threatened desert tortoise.

Calico Solar is a subsidiary of Houston-based Tessera Solar North America, itself a unit of renewable-energy company NTR of Dublin, Ireland.

The company is also working on its Imperial Valley Solar Project, which landed state approval in late September.

-- Tiffany Hsu

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