Solar Millennium’s US Projects Set for Next Step

The solar thermal plants being developed by in the Southwest by Solar Millennium AG’s and Ferrostaal AG´s US subsidiary, have reached the next stage of the approval procedure and are on schedule. Solar Millennium said that it plans to start construction of at least one planned project by the end of this year.

If the approval process run smoothly, a total of nine projects, each with an installed capacity of around 250 megawatts (MW) could be built by the company.

U.S. government authorities have presented the first drafts of the environmental impact studies (EIS) for the three Californian sites Palen, Blythe and Ridgecrest and an EIS for a site in Nevada’s Amargosa desert has also been released to the public. The public hearing phase, which allows the public to state their opinion and comments on the projects for a period of 90 days for each project, is about to start.

In parallel to their environmental appraisal by government offcials, the projects are also being analyzed by independent teams with respect to a qualification for subsidies by the U.S. government. These assessments are well under way and are expected to be completed as early as summer 2010.

Regulators in California and Nevada will decide whether building permits will be granted on the basis of each EIS as well as public opinion.

“From today’s point of view, we should be able to receive the construction permit for at least one power plant by autumn this year,” said Josef Eichhammer, managing director of the U.S. project development company Solar Millennium LLC. “Financing negotiations are likewise well under way. We are planning to close the financing and officially commence building in the current fiscal year. We have filed applications for loan guarantees covering the planned power plants in California and Nevada with the U.S. Department of Energy.”

In June 2009, Solar Millennium LLC signed power purchase agreements (PPA) with Southern California Edison (SCE) for power generated from the California-based projects.

The PPAs refer to two parabolic trough power plants with a capacity of 242 MW each, with the option for an additional 242 MW power plant, and provide for SCE to purchase the electricity generated by the planned solar power plants for a period of 20 years. These power plants are scheduled to be commissioned between 2013 and 2014.

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