Imperial Valley Solar
(Formerly called SES Solar Two Project)

Docket Number:

08-AFC-05 (Application For Certification)
08-AFC-5C (Compliance Proceeding)

Project Status: Project Terminated: August 17, 2011

Committee that oversaw Original Licensing Proceeding:

Jeffrey D. Byron, Commissioner, Presiding Member

Anthony Eggert, Commissioner, Associate Member


Hearing Officer: Raoul Renaud

Key Dates

  • 6/30/2008 - Application for Certification filed.
  • 10/08/2008 - Commission accepts AFC as "data adequate."
  • 2/12/2010 - Commission and Bureau of Land Management staff releases Staff Analysis and Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
  • 7/7/2010 - Commission staff releases Supplemental Staff Analysis Part 1.
  • 8/26/2010 - Committee releases Presiding Member's Proposed Decision.
  • 09/29/2010 - Commission approves Application For Certification.
  • 8/17/2011 - Order Terminating Commission Decision and License.


Photo of SES Stirling Engine 'SunCatcher' courtesy of SES

On June 30, 2008, Stirling Energy Systems Solar Two, LLC (SES Solar Two, LLC) submitted an Application for Certification (AFC) to construct and operate the Stirling Energy Systems Solar Two project (SES Solar Two), a solar dish Stirling systems project in Imperial County, California.

In February 2010, the company formally requested that the project change its name to Imperial Valley Solar. The company name was also changed to Imperial Valley Solar LLC.

The proposed Imperial Valley Solar/SES Solar Two project would be a nominal 750-megawatt (MW) Stirling engine project, with construction planned to begin either late 2009 or early 2010. 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 6,500 acre project site is located on approximately 6,140 acres of federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and approximately 360 acres of privately owned land. The site is approximately 100 miles east of San Diego, 14 miles west of El Centro, and approximately 4 miles east of Ocotillo, California.

The project will be constructed in two phases. Phase I of the project will consist of up to 12,000 SunCatchers configured in 200 1.5-MW solar groups of 60 SunCatchers per group and have a net nominal generating capacity of 300 MW. Phase II will add approximately 18,000 SunCatchers, expanding the project to a total of approximately 30,000 SunCatchers configured in 500-1.5-MW solar groups with a total net generating capacity of 750 MW.

The Applicant has applied for a ROW grant for the Project Site from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) California Desert District. Although the Project is phased, it is being analyzed in this Application for Certification as if all phases will be operational at the same time.

The project would include the construction of a new 230-kV substation approximately in the center of the project site, and would also be connected to the SDG&E Imperial Valley Substation via an approximate 10.3-mile, double-circuit, 230-kV transmission line. Other than this interconnection transmission line, no new transmission lines or off-site substations would be required for the 300-MW Phase I construction. The full Phase II expansion of the project will require the construction of the 500-kV Sunrise Powerlink transmission line project proposed by SDG&E. Within the Project boundary, Phase I requires approximately 2,600 acres and Phase II requires approximately 3,500 acres. The total area required for both phases, including the area for the operation and administration building, the maintenance building, and the substation building, is approximately 6,500 acres. The 230-kV transmission line required for Phase I would parallel the Southwest Powerlink transmission line within the designated right-of-way (ROW). A water supply pipeline for the project would be built on the approved Union Pacific Railroad ROW. Since the proposed project does not have a steam cycle, the primary water use would be for mirror washing.

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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