Palen solar project in California to change hands and technology

Citing a change in both project ownership and technology, Palen SEGS I LLC on Dec. 22 requested from the California Energy Commission an extension of the deadline for the commencement of construction of the Palen Solar Power Project.

The commission’s December 2010 approval for the project included a deadline for commencement of construction of Dec. 15, 2015. In September 2015, the commission issued a conditional order granting a one-year extension. Palen is now requesting an extension of the deadline for commencement of construction to twelve months following the date of submission of a petition for amendment by the project’s new owner. The current project owner suggests the commission set the deadline for submission of a petition for amendment by the new owner to June 15, 2016.

Said the Dec. 22 application: “Over the course of the past year, the Project Owner worked diligently to evaluate economically and technologically feasible options for constructing the Project in light of the concerns raised by the Commission and interested stakeholders during the solar tower amendment process that ended on September 29, 2014. By September 2015, the Project Owner had developed a feasible plan for updating the Project’s original parabolic trough design and augmenting the Project with storage capabilities. On September 16, 2015, the Commission granted a one-year extension to commence construction by December 15, 2016, provided the Project Owner filed a petition to amend the Project description to include solar trough technology with energy storage no later than December 22, 2015. But on November 25, 2015, Abengoa, S.A., the Project Owner’s ultimate parent company, commenced pre-insolvency proceedings in Spain.

“In order to provide a return on the time and money invested to date by the Project Owner and the people and State of California in the development of the Project, the Project Owner engaged in efforts to transfer the Project as quickly as possible to a new owner. On December 15, 2015, the Project Owner agreed to transfer ownership of the Project’s license to Maverick Solar, LLC (‘Maverick’) and filed a Petition for Ownership Transfer with the Commission on the same day.

“At all stages in the Project’s lifetime, each Project owner has worked diligently and actively to develop and move the Project forward to construction. Such development efforts have included reconfiguration of the Project disturbance area to avoid sand transport corridors and sand dune habitat, reduction of the Project footprint, evaluation of a single solar tower design, and development of plans to incorporate thermal energy storage. Yet due to the bankruptcy of a prior owner and the efforts of all owners to amend the Project to better address concerns identified by the Commission’s staff and other stakeholders, the Project was unable to proceed along the original construction timeline.

“Since the Commission issued its Extension Order in September 2015, the Project Owner has continued to work diligently to develop a modified Project description that would satisfy the Commission’s conditions by the Extension Order’s deadline of December 22, 2015. However, given the pre-insolvency proceedings begun by Abengoa—a company over which the Project Owner has no control—filing of a Project amendment reliant on Abengoa’s solar trough technology by December 22, 2015 is no longer feasible. An extension of the deadline for commencement of construction will afford time for Maverick to prepare and submit its own engineering and site design documents. Maverick intends to file with the Commission a petition to convert the Project from solar parabolic trough technology to solar photovoltaic (‘PV’) technology….”

Filed on Dec. 15 with the commission was a request to transfer the project to the new owner and a declaration from Cliff Graham, who is Vice President, Development West of EDF Renewable Energy, the managing member of new owner Maverick Solar LLC.

The contact information for the new company is: Maverick Solar LLC c/o EDF Renewable Energy, Attn: Cliff Graham, VP, Development West, 15445 Innovation Drive, San Diego, CA 92128.

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 was to utilize solar parabolic trough technology. 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.