Carrizo Energy Solar Farm

Docket Number:

07-AFC-08 (Application For Certification)

Project Status: Terminated November 18, 2009

Committee that oversaw Original Licensing Proceeding

Jeffrey D. Byron, Commissioner, Presiding Member

Julia Levin, Commissioner, Associate Member


Hearing Officer: Gary Fay

Key Dates

  • 10/25/07 - Application for Certification (AFC) filed with California Energy Commission
  • 12/19/07 - Commission accepts Application for Certification (AFC) as complete.
  • 11/18/09 - Committee Issues Order Terminating Proceedings


graphic rendition of row of solar concentrators

Ausra CA II, LLC (doing business as Carrizo Energy, LLC) has proposed to build the Carrizo Energy Solar Farm (CESF), which will consist of approximately 195 Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar concentrating lines, and associated steam drums, steam turbine generators (STGs), air-cooled condensers (ACCs), and infrastructure, producing up to a nominal 177 megawatts (MW) net.

The CESF is located in an unincorporated area of eastern San Luis Obispo County, west of Simmler and northwest of California Valley, California. The Project is approximately five miles west of Kern County. The CESF includes the solar farm site, a minimal offsite transmission system connection, and construction laydown area. The CESF site will encompass approximately 640 acres of fenced area, adjacent to California State Route 58 (SR-58)/Carrisa Highway. The 380-acre construction laydown area is directly south of the project site across SR-58.

graphic rendition of row of solar concentrators

The CESF is located in an area zoned for agricultural uses as specified in the San Luis Obispo County General Land Use Plan; however, electrical generation is listed in the San Luis Obispo County Land Use Ordinance as an allowed use within the agricultural zone. Existing and past land uses include transmission lines, the PG&E Carrizo Plain Substation, agricultural, rural residences, and the prior Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) Carrisa Plain Solar Project (adjacent to the Project site).

The Project design will incorporate Ausra's proprietary CLFR technology to concentrate solar energy on pipes in an elevated receiver (see figure to right). The concentrated solar energy boils water within a row of specially coated stainless steel pipes in an insulated cavity to produce saturated steam. The steam produced in the receivers is collected in a series of pipes, routed to steam drums, and then to the two turbine generators. Steam used by the steam turbines is condensed back to water and returned to the solar field.

graphic rendition of row of solar concentrators

The solar field will operate daily from sunrise to sunset. Typical operating hours for the CESF will be approximately 13 hours per day, or an average of 4,765 hours per year.

If the license to construct is approved, construction of the CESF, from site preparation and grading to full commercial operation, is expected to take approximately 35 months. Site construction activities will commence in the first quarter of 2009 and continue through the 35-month construction schedule. The project is scheduled to be online at partial capacity and available for dispatch into the grid on or before May 31, 2010. It is currently anticipated that the entire CESF will be online and in commercial service by the first quarter of 2012.

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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