Calico Solar Project

Docket Number:

08-AFC-13 (Application For Certification)
08-AFC-13C (Compliance Proceeding)
11-CAI-01 (Complaint and Investigation Proceeding)

Project Status: License terminated, August 27, 2013.

The California Energy Commission approved this project's Application for Certification on October 28, 2010. The Commission monitors the power plant's construction, operation and eventual decommissioning through a compliance proceeding.

Committee that oversaw Original Licensing Proceeding:

Karen Douglas, Commissioner, Presiding Member

Robert B. Weisenmiller, Chairman, Associate Member


Hearing Officer: Paul Kramer

Key Dates

  • December 2, 2008 - Application for Certification (AFC) filed.
  • May 6, 2009 - Commission accepts AFC as "data adequate."
  • September 25, 2010 - Committee releases Presiding Member's Proposed Decision.
  • October 28, 2010 - Commission approves Application For Certification.
  • 8/27/2013 - License Terminated


Photo of SES Stirling Engine 'SunCatcher' courtesy of SES

On December 2, 2008, Stirling Energy Systems Solar One, LLC (SES Solar Three LLC and SES Solar Six LLC) submitted an Application for Certification (AFC) to construct and operate the Stirling Energy Systems Solar One Project (SES Solar One), a solar dish Stirling systems project in San Bernardino County, California.

In January 2010, the project formally changed its name to the Calico Solar Project. The applicant, SES Solar Three LLC, was merged into SES Solar Six LLC, and that surviving entity was re-named Calico Solar, LLC. Calico Solar is a subsidiary of Tessera Solar™.

The proposed Callico Solar project would be a nominal 850-megawatt (MW) Stirling engine project, with construction planned to begin in late 2010 if the project is approved by the Energy Commission. Although construction would take approximately 40 months to complete, renewable power would be available to the grid as each 60-unit group is completed. The primary equipment for the generating facility would include the approximately 30,000, 25-kilowatt solar dish Stirling systems (referred to as SunCatchers), their associated equipment and systems, and their support infrastructure. Each SunCatcher consists of a solar receiver heat exchanger and a closed-cycle, high-efficiency Solar Stirling Engine specifically designed to convert solar power to rotary power then driving an electrical generator to produce grid-quality electricity.

The proposed project will be constructed on an approximate 8,230-acre site located in San Bernardino County, California. The project site is approximately 37 miles east of Barstow, 17 miles east of Newberry Springs, 57 miles northeast of Victorville, and approximately 115 miles east of Los Angeles (straight line distances). Most of the power from the project will be generated at peak times, when the demand for electricity is greatest.

2012 Proposed Amendment

In June 2012 the applicant submitted a project amendment that proposes changes to the site footprint, layout and electrical generation technology associated with the approved project. The primary changes include:

  • The proposed technology to be utilized for the modified project would be Photo Voltaic (PV) modules mounted on (1) horizontal single-axis trackers or (2) a fixed tilt racking system. Fixed tilt PV panels may also be used on the site where terrain or other site constraints preclude the use of single-axis trackers.
  • The Modified Project would still be constructed in two phases, Phase 1 would be located primarily south of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad and Phase 2 would be located primarily north of the railroad.
  • A new access route south of the BNSF railroad tracks to the most western portion of the project.

In addition to changing the technology, K Road Calico Solar proposes to reconfigure the project layout to reduce the project footprint from 4,613 acres to 3,855 acres and provide the following:

  • Remove the 5 to 1 tortoise mitigation lands located in the northern project site.
  • Create a wildlife movement corridor through the center of the project.
  • Reduce impacts to the White-Margined Beardtongue from four (4) distinct areas to one (1).
  • Exclude 69 acres of Mojave Fringe Toed Lizard habitat. This total acreage includes 17 acres of the 21.4 total acres of high quality breeding habitat.
  • Excludes the donated lands (Catellus Lands) within Section 17 from the site.

Energy Commission Facility Certification Process

The California Energy Commission is the lead agency (for licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts and larger) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and has a certified regulatory program under CEQA. Under its certified program, the Energy Commission is exempt from having to prepare an environmental impact report. Its certified program, however, does require environmental analysis of the project, including an analysis of alternatives and mitigation measures to minimize any significant adverse effect the project may have on the environment.

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