Environment Forum

Tessera sells Calico solar project to K Road Power

By Todd Woody
December 29, 2010

IMG_2575NTR’s Tessera Solar has sold its 663.5-megawatt Calico solar power project to K Road Power less than a week after utility Southern California Edison canceled a long-standing contract to buy electricity from the power plant that was to be built in the Mojave Desert.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The deal is the latest twist for Calico, which nine weeks ago won approval from California and federal regulators after being put on a fast track so as to qualify for then-expiring tax incentives for renewable energy projects.

Tessera also received the green light for its 709-megawatt Imperial Valley solar power plant but had not secured the financing to build the $4.6 billion pair of projects.

K Road said a subsidiary, K Road Sun, will replace Tessera’s SunCatcher Stirling dish technology with photovoltaic panels for a 750-megawatt phase of the project but will use the solar dishes in a second, 100-megawatt phase.

The parent company, based in New York City, is run by William V. Kriegel, a former chief executive of Sithe Energies, a power developer.

“We are excited to move the Calico Solar Project into a financeable position,” Gerrit Nicholas, K Road’s managing partner, said in a statement.

But the road ahead could  be a long one for K Road.

The sale, the loss of the Southern California Edison power purchase agreement and the reconfiguration of the project likely means K Road’s plans will need to undergo further environmental review by the California Energy Commission and the United States Bureau of Land Management, which is leasing the land for Calico.

“K Road is in ongoing discussions with both and while they will have to have some of the permits amended, K Road is optimistic that will happen,” Anton Nicholas, a K Road spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Regulators had insisted the project be reduced from the planned 850 megawatts to 663.6 megawatts to reduce the impact on the desert landscape and protected wildlife.

Nicholas said Calico is K Road’s first publicly announced solar project.

On Monday, a Native American organization and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in United States District Court in San Diego alleging that the federal government failed to adequately consider the environmental and cultural impact of six large-scale solar projects, including Calico and Imperial Valley. In a statement, Tessera said it is continuing efforts to obtain financing to build the Imperial Valley project.

Earlier this month, a federal judge  issued a preliminary injunction barring the start of construction until a suit filed by the Quechan Native American tribe could be heard. The Quechan contend the federal government failed to adequately consult the tribe about the impact of the project on their ancestral lands.

(Photo: Todd Woody)

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