U.S. Secretary of Interior Puts OK on Helping to Make California The University of Green For The World To Emulate

California Solar News – There’s an old Chinese proverb, “the beating of a butterfly’s wings will cause a hurricane on the other side of the world”. The latest beat, the U.S. Secretary of the interior this week put his OK on the large commercial solar energy installation to be built in San Bernardino County California. Everything is interconnected and the Obama administration is working hard to create good paying local new jobs in America. This project is one of the many pieces it will take to reinvent ourselves.

This 370-megawatt solar array photovoltaic project will put thousands of people to work and supply clean electricity to thousands of homes. Now is the time to fire up small business and create green jobs in America. Hire the thousands of people displaced by the recession and install thousands of solar panels for businesses and homes pouring dollars into local economies. Keep turning California into a green model for the world. Read More –

California desert solar project gets final OK. The Press-Enterprise By DAVID DANELSKI. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday approved the first commercial solar energy plants on public land, including one in San Bernardino County, and said more are on the way.

“We will see thousands of megawatts of solar energy sprout across our public lands,” Salazar said in a conference call.

Applications for dozens of solar and wind energy projects in the California desert have been submitted to the federal government. Nine of them all but two in San Bernardino and Riverside counties have been granted a fast-track approval process so that they can take advantage of stimulus funding available through the end of the year.

Some environmental groups, government officials and private landowners object to the developments, but so far state and federal decision-makers have embraced the projects, because they will create jobs and provide clean energy from solar power.

Chevron Energy Solutions now can proceed with a solar complex on 422 acres in Lucerne Valley, below the northern slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains. The company, a San Francisco-based subsidiary of Chevron USA, plans to erect 40,500 photovoltaic panels to produce 45 megawatts, enough to power as many as 33,750 homes.

Also approved Tuesday was Tessera Solar of Scottsdale, Ariz., which intends to start the installation of a 709-megawatt solar plant on 6,360 acres in Imperial County. Thousands of dish-shaped mirrors will focus heat on Stirling engines, which will generate enough electricity for as many as 566,000 homes, according to U.S. Department of Interior estimates.

Salazar said he expects both companies to start construction on the solar installations before January and the first electricity to flow to homes by 2011.

The Obama administration is encouraging renewable energy development, putting up as much as 30 percent of start-up costs for the solar project. Chevron could get as much as $31 million, and Tessera, $273 million, according to the Department of Interior.

Three days before Salazar’s announcement, President Barack Obama released a video message expressing his enthusiasm for a 370-megawatt solar array pending on 5.6 square miles of public land in northeast San Bernardino County. He said the BrightSource Energy Co. project will put a thousand people to work and help the country become energy independent.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management expects a final decision on the Bright Source solar plan before the end of this week.

The Lucerne Valley project will produce about 50 solar energy jobs at peak construction and two permanent jobs to manage the site, said Juliet Don, a Chevron Energy spokeswoman. Groundbreaking is pending that will help fix the broken economy.

Many people who live in Lucerne Valley oppose the Chevron solar project and want the land to remain as open space for wildlife and recreation, said Jean Magee, a retired real estate agent and secretary of the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association.

She said the business community wants big solar projects to go on alfalfa fields that were abandoned in the area because of scarce water. That would put idle land to good use and put solar installers to work, she said.

Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the trend away from fossil fuel with projects like this large solar installation will help slow climate change, but it should be accomplished without harming imperiled wildlife.

“We need to transition away from fossil fuel as fast as possible,” Anderson said. “But we believe many of the projects are poorly sited because they are going on habitat for rare and endangered species. We want to have our cake and eat it, too, by having these solar installation projects go on the previously disturbed lands.”