No Victory in Victorville

California is in the red and still not counting the failed solar energy policies.  The promise of the Victorville Solar Power Facility in central eastern California is the tip of the iceburg.,[1], [2]

As they scream foul play, the very people who demand solar power are the same who oppose it.  The environmentalists insist on costly impact statements.  The unions want a piece of the growing monetary pie, and cost projections are in far left field. An excellent example may be found in news releases regarding objections to the construction of the Victorville Hybrid Solar Power generating station in California.

In August 2005, Stirling Energy Systems was contracted to build the world’s largest solar facility in Victorville, California.  After a great deal of fanfare the January 2009 construction start date came and went.  Why?  First, the state environmental review agency expressed concern for the threatened Mohave ground squirrel—not because it lives on the project site, but because it may decide to live there at some other time in the future.  The California Department of Fish and Game decided that the squirrel would be fine if three desert acres for every 1 acre of project land was purchased and set aside for anticipated future needs by the squirrel.  The additional land requirements increased the land purchase cost considerably.  But this was not the end.

The California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) petitioned and was granted further environmental review over the project site. CURE proceeded to bury the developers environmental lawsuits and paperwork.  CURE lawyers presented the developers with 153 item environmental impact requests.  Some of the information requested was:  (1) what chemicals would be used to clean the panels; (2) what herbicides would be used to kill the weeds; and (3) how the project would impact desert squirrels, tortoises, and owls. Absurd?  Not according to CURE. But all this came on the heels of a mandate by the union to hire union labor, at union rates or hired non-union contractors must join CURE and pay monthly dues and fees.  Once again, the costs go up.  Is there no end?  The project cost and start operation date keeps sliding further and further out of reach.

The Victorville Hybrid Power Plant was projected to produce a net electrical output of about 550 MW—500 MW of natural gas-fired turbines and 50 MW solar thermal power. Although this is referred to as a solar energy power plant, only 10 percent of the power production will be “solar.”

Also, the City Council of Victorville authorized $173 million (70 percent of their city budget) to buy the facility in 2007.  Total construction costs of $800 million were anticipated by project completion in 2010.  As of December 2009, the project had yet to break ground, and the City of Victorville was attempting to sell it. As of April 2012, there appears to be no activity.

[1] Going Green/Union Pressure.  Newspusher, 9 September 2009.

[2] Pasadena Sub Rosa.  1 May 2009.