Southern California environment news and trends

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

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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


SolarStrong is a go, without DOE loan guarantee; did Solyndra matter?

Courtesy SolarCity

In September, SolarCity feared its SolarStrong project could wilt on the vine thanks to Solyndra. Now with Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, SolarCity is moving forward with a project almost as big as if it had won an Energy Department loan guarantee. So how important are those things?

Back in September, one of the echo-effects we talked about with regard to the Solyndra/DOE fiasco concerned a project called SolarStrong. Run by SolarCity, it was intended to install residential rooftop solar at up to 124 military bases in 33 states. SolarCity said, at the time, that this project "has the potential to be the largest single residential solar electricity project in the world and would nearly double" the total number of residential solar installations in the US.

Then the DOE’s loan financing program stalled out under the weight of Congressional scrutiny. So SolarCity wrote to Congress and said the stakes for blowing off its loan guarantee were high:

Halting the project will mean sacrificing more than $1 billion of private investment into economically hard-hit military communities throughout the United States. It would also mean the loss of jobs we believe the project would create, many of which would have gone to veterans and the family members of our active duty military servicemen and women. We believe that the valuable work done to move the SolarStrong project to completion should not be lost because of the Solyndra bankruptcy.