Calico concentrated solar energy project sold to San Diego firm

K Road Power Holdings LLC plans to turn most of the 850 megawatt project into a photovoltaic plant. The project will be built in two phases and once completed will be able to power up to 350,000 homes. About 100 megawatts will be generated from the project using solar thermal technology.

K Road Power representatives began negotiations with Tessera Solar to purchase the project about six weeks ago, said K Road Power spokesman Anton Nicholas. The sale was finalized Dec. 23 — the same day Edison informed Tessera Solar that it was terminating its agreement to buy power generated by the project.

Tessera’s announcement that it has sold the Calico Solar Project also follows a decision from a federal judge in San Diego to halt the company’s 709 megawatt Imperial Valley Solar Project near El Centro. According to Tessera, the company is still pursuing that project.

The entire project would have consisted of solar thermal technology under Tessera. K Road representatives decided to convert most of the project to photovoltaic to allow it to generate energy sooner, Nicholas said.

"We think the project is better suited for PV and a big component of that is getting (the power) to market," he said.

California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management approved the project at 663.5 megawatts in October. K Road Power representatives plan to work with the energy commission and BLM to be able to build the project to 850 megawatts.

Representatives will also either negotiate a new power purchase agreement with Edison or work with another utility, Nicholas said. In addition to the power purchase agreement that Edison terminated, Tessera also had an agreement to connect the 850 megawatt project to the power grid, he noted.

Groundbreaking is expected to take place in the second half of 2011. The project is still expected to create 700 construction jobs, Nicholas said. The project’s total investment cost is roughly $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

K Road Power has developed, owned and operated solar plants in eastern California, Nevada and Arizona, Nicholas said. It has also developed wind energy, gas and other energy plants worldwide.

By Jessica Cejnar, Desert Dispatch,