Rory Devine reports
Clean renewable energy is playing a big part in next week's elections. AB 32 is California's clean renewable energy law. But proponents of Prop 23 are pushing hard to get it suspended until unemployment in the state falls below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.
Meg Whitman doesn't endorse Prop 23 although she wants most of the provisions of AB 32 suspended for one year. Jerry Brown is firmly against 23. Not surprising if you've read his plan for jobs in California. Seems he needs AB32 to sustain his jobs plan.
As ads for both sides flood the airwaves, this week the federal government approved a thousand-megawatt solar venture in Southern California. Chevron Energy Solutions and Solar Millennium, a German company, are teaming up to construct, own and operate the $6 billion Blythe Solar Power plant. Sitting on just over 7,000 acres in the Mojave Desert, it's expected to be operational by the end of 2011 or early 2012.
It might surprise you to find out that there are seven such projects on the drawing board. The Blythe Project is the sixth such plant approved by the Department of the Interior just this month. The seventh is expected to be approved in the next few weeks. The push for approval is for good reason as it allows companies to get construction on these plants going right away. That's important because solar projects like these that begin construction before December 31 qualify for a Treasury Department grant that will cover 30 percent of the cost.
On a $6 billion project that's not chump change.
So how will these plants be affected if Prop 23 passes? Not much, really. All of them will be built on land owned by the federal government. They will, however help the cause that both gubernatorial candidates are championing. Jobs.
More than 2,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase and several hundred permanent jobs will open up once the plants are open and operational. Then there's the electricity. At full capacity these plants will be able to provide the power needs for some 2 million homes.
The size and scope of these solar projects in unprecedented in the U.S. California prides itself on being a the nation's leader in clean renewable energy. While one can only hope that the bickering in the state is almost over, Uncle Sam is out front leading by example.