Southern California environment news and trends

What's the German word for bankrupt? Blythe Solar Power Project's parent seeks protection

Mercer 11476

Parabolic solar would have delivered solar power for the Blythe Power Project, until Solar Trust switched to PV panels. What happens now is anybody's guess.

While I've been off participating in the daily dispensation of justice under the law, a big solar project in Riverside County is hitting the skids. Solar Millennium is the German parent company behind Solar Trust, the Oakland-based company backing the Blythe Solar Power Project, and it's seeking Deutsche court protection for its debts.

Blythe's Solar Power Project won more than 2 million dollars in loan guarantees from the federal Department of Energy last year. Cue the turmoil: originally slated to use parabolic photovoltaic technology, plans shifted when project managers later ran the numbers and figured out that using solar photovoltaic panels penciled out better, largely because the price of PV had dropped precipitously. That forced the Solar Trust of America to gave up the loan guarantee


Interior Department shrinks some solar energy zones in Inland Empire; will it be enough?

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Joshua Tree National Park, October 9, 2011. The park's border is now further away from the edge of proposed federal solar energy zones under the final tweak of a massive programmatic environmental impact report.

Yesterday the Interior Department released its final proposed maps for "solar energy zones." As we reported last year, these zones are for projects that come NEXT: not the "fast-track" solar projects that are already underway in California, Nevada and other states. 

Nearly a year after the Interior Department started making these zones in which solar could speed ahead, some of the zones are shrunken or elminated under the final plan on which the public will comment. Interior officials say the zones were "found to have resource conflicts and/or development constraints."

In the Inland Empire, eastern Riverside county bears the brunt of the scrutiny. And in San Bernardino, that means the Pisgah Crater and Iron Mountain. Pisgah is about 37 square miles of land; Iron Mountain is a patch 166 square miles big. According to the Press-Enterprise