Mojave Desert project gains approval

Salazar approved three other projects in California and one in Nevada earlier this month and the Calico project is the fifth solar energy plant to be approved on western U.S. public lands. The project is stated to be able to power at least 200,000 homes according to the Interior Department.

Salazar authorized the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer Tessera Solar, a Houston-based company, to utilize 4,604 acres (approximately 1,863 hectares) for 30 years to develop Calico Solar. The project is estimated to cost more than USD$2 billion and will be able to create 136 permanent jobs. There will also be 400 construction jobs as well during the development phase according to Tessera’s correspondent Janette Coates.

The Calico project was expected to be on a larger area of land, almost double the size, but the BLM limited its size to protect the endangered desert flora and fauna, which includes the desert tortoise. The scaling down will reduce the number of affected tortoises from 107 to 22 according to BLM.

Once complete, the five public land projects can generate more than 1,800 MWs of power to supply any where between 550,000 to 1.4 million homes, as the Interior Department states. The previously approved projects are Imperial Valley Solar, Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar and Ivanpah as well as Nevada’s Silver State North Solar project.