California commission to sort out Palen solar project issues on Feb. 10

The California Energy Commission has scheduled a Feb. 10 hearing at its offices in Sacramento on a petition to transfer ownership from Palen SEGS I LLC to Maverick Solar LLC of the Palen Solar Power Project (PSPP) and a request to extend the deadline to build the project.

In September 2015, the commission granted an extension of time to construct. The order granted a Palen SEGS I petition to extend the time to construct from Dec. 15, 2015, to Dec. 16, 2016, and allowed it to file a project amendment to include solar trough generating technology and energy storage capabilities. The order specified that if the petition for amendment is not received by 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 22, this order is automatically rescinded and the permit for the PSPP will be deemed to have expired as of Dec. 15.

On Dec. 15, the project owner filed to transfer ownership to Maverick Solar. The petition included a request for a 12-month extension of the start of construction date to Dec. 15, 2016. Also on Dec. 15, the project owner filed a declaration signed by Cliff Graham, Vice President of EDF Renewable Energy, the managing member of Maverick Solar, stating that Palen SEGS I agreed to transfer ownership of the project to Maverick, “subject to approval by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.” The bankruptcy relates to Palen parent Abengoa SA out of Spain.

On Dec. 22, Palen SEGS I filed a petition for extension of deadline for commencement of construction requesting an extension of the deadline to June 15, 2017, conditioned upon the new owner (Maverick) filing a petition to amend the PSPP by June 15, 2016. The petition further states that “Maverick intends to file with the Commission a petition to convert the Project from solar parabolic trough technology to solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.”

The commission at the Feb. 10 session will address the questions of ownership change as well as the requested extensions to commence construction and decide whether to appoint a committee to consider these and other matters at the hearing. The petitioner has been ordered to file a response to various questions by noon on Jan. 22, including:

  • Did the existing Palen license expire on Dec. 15 when no petition to amend was filed by Dec. 22?
  • If not, explain why a petition for extension of a construction deadline should be deemed to meet the requirement for a petition to amend.
  • If the license has expired, what legal authority allows the commission to revive the certificate and extend the construction commencement deadline?
  • Who was the project owner of the PSPP on Dec. 22?
  • Who is the project owner of the PSPP today?
  • If the commission-issued license held by Palen SEGS I will be sold, identify by when, and to whom, it will be sold.
  • Explain how, if at all, bankruptcy proceedings mentioned in the petitions (i.e. the bankruptcy stay) affect orders from the Energy Commission.

Interested persons and members of the public are encouraged to file replies or comments on the petitioner’s filings by noon on Feb. 3.

The project as currently configured is a concentrated solar thermal facility with two identical solar plants of 250 MW nominal capacity each for a total capacity of 500 MW nominal. The project site is about 10 miles east of Desert Center, along Interstate 10 between the cities of Indio and Blythe in Riverside County, California.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.