Sixty SunCatcher solar dishes were installed in Peoria, Arizona, to form the 1.5-megawatt Maricopa Solar project. The newly approved Calico Solar project will be more than 400 times larger. Enlarge this image . Credit: Salt River Project
The California Energy Commission approved on October 28 the 663.5-megawatt (MW) Calico Solar Project in San Bernardino County, the seventh California solar power plant it has licensed in the past two months. Calico Solar, LLC, a subsidiary of Tessera Solar, is developing the project on approximately 4,613 acres of land managed by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management in the Mojave Desert. The primary equipment for the generating facility will be solar dish Stirling systems, or "SunCatchers." Construction of the Calico project will require a peak workforce of 700; project operation will require another 180 jobs.
To qualify for federal stimulus funds, the project needed to be approved by the Commission before December 31, 2010. Since August, the Commission has licensed 3,492.5 megawatts of solar power in the California desert. The Calico project is the fifth commercial solar energy project permitted on U.S. federal public land. The project was initially proposed as an 850-MW facility on 8,230 acres, but Calico Solar was required to reduce the project's footprint to minimize its impacts on environmental resources, primarily the desert tortoise. See the California Energy Commission press release .