The California State Assembly has approved A.B.1703, which will allow K Road Power to seek permission to build its Calico solar plant directly from the California Energy Commission (CEC). The approval process would, therefore, bypass local agencies.
Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, who sponsored the legislation, said its purpose was to ‘clarify’ the status of the 663 MW project, according to the Los Angeles Times. A related bill, S.B.226, gave the CEC exclusive jurisdiction over Calico and four other projects before Calico was switched over to PV technology.
A.B.1703 faced opposition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other environmental groups, which believe the Calico plant will threaten local wildlife. In a recent blog post, the NRDC's Annie Notthoff said the project ‘exemplifies solar done wrong.’
‘Rewarding the only solar project in litigation with environmental organizations that have been working hard to promote good planning and siting practices to meet California's important renewable energy goals sends the worst kind of signal â�¦ to those who are playing by the rules,’ Notthoff wrote. ‘A.B.1073 is ill conceived and ill advised.’
In March, the NRDC and other groups filed a lawsuit to block construction of the Calico project. Two previous lawsuits related to the Calico project were dismissed in April 2011.
Calico Solar, which changed hands from Tessera Solar to K Road Power in 2010 following the loss of the project's power purchase agreement (PPA) with Southern California Edison, still lacks financing, a construction start date and a PPA, according to the Los Angeles Times. Its deadline for approval by the CEC is June 30.