California Solar Project Gets U.S. Approval

By By Ryan Tracy  |  WSJ  | Link to article

WASHINGTON—The Interior Secretary Wednesday approved the highest capacity solar-panel plant ever constructed on public-owned land.

The approval cleared a permitting hurdle for First Solar Inc.’s 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight project, which needed to pass an environmental review from the Interior Department because it is being built on federal land.

Company spokesman Alan Bernheimer said the approval was a “major milestone” and paves the way for construction to begin this month in the California desert, east of Palm Springs.

First Solar will supply thin-film photovoltaic solar panels, build, and operate the project, but is looking to sell it to a new owner and hasn’t yet announced a buyer. It sold an Arizona solar farm last week to NRG Energy under a similar arrangement after the Energy Department finalized a loan guarantee for that project.

A $1.88 billion federal loan guarantee for Desert Sunlight is still pending. The Energy Department offered the guarantee in June, contingent on certain conditions. (full article)