May 2, 2011 - From the April, 2011 issue

Energy Secretary Chu and Governor Brown Commit to Renewables in CA

Several significant events for California's ongoing mission to turn over its electricity infrastructure to renewable sources occurred in April. First, Gov. Jerry Brown did what the previous governor would not and signed a law (SBX1 2) into effect that mandates a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard by Dec. 31, 2020. The following excerpts include his signing address. A few days later, Gov. Brown, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Solar Trust of America CEO Uwe Schmidt announced that the federal government would guarantee a $2.1 billion loan for a concentrated solar project in Blythe, CA, the largest DOE Loan Program allocation to date.

Steven Chu

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am signing Senate Bill 2 (First Extraordinary Session), which will extend the current 20% renewables portfolio standard target in 2010 to a 33% renewables portfolio standard by December 31, 2020.

This bill will bring many important benefits to California, including stimulating investment in green technologies in the state, creating tens of thousands of new jobs, improving local air quality, promoting energy independence, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It will ensure that California maintains its long-standing leadership in renewables and clean energy.

While reaching a 33% renewables portfolio standard will be an important milestone, it is really just a starting point-a floor, not a ceiling. Our state has enormous renewable resource potential. I would like to see us pursue even more far-reaching targets. With the amount of renewable resources coming on-line, and prices dropping, I think 40%, at reasonable cost, is well within our grasp in the near future.

The bill contains some provisions that will create implementation difficulties or inefficiencies, particularly for regulatory agencies charged with the bill's implementation.

These provisions should be amended quickly. Therefore, while I am signing this bill today, I ask the Legislature to immediately begin work on additional legislation to correct these problems.


Edmund G. Brown Jr.


April 18, 2011, press conference call with U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, California Governor Jerry Brown, and Uwe Schmidt, CEO, Solar Trust of America.

Secretary Steven Chu: I want to especially thank Governor Brown and Uwe Schmidt, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Solar Trust of America for being on the call. I had the privilege of joining governor Brown last week as he signed into law California's aggressive new renewable portfolio standard. It was an important step that will unleash innovation and put California at the forefront of the clean energy economy. And last week, I also had the pleasure of announcing new federal investment that will help California meet its ambitious goals. This included $1.6 billion in loan guarantees for Bright Source Energy, a solar-thermal project that will be located in Southeastern California. We also offered a conditional commitment for nearly $1.2 billion in loans to support another solar project in San Luis Obispo County.

Today I have more good news. The Department of Energy has offered a conditional commitment for a $2.1 billion loan guarantee to support a concentrating solar-thermal power plant near Blythe, California. This is the largest amount offered to a solar project through the loans program office and another sign that California is the center of a growing solar industry. The loan guarantee will afford two units of a Blythe solar power project, and will have a combined 484-megawatt generating capacity. These units are part of a larger project sponsored by solar trust, and when completed will generate 1,000 megawatts of solar power using parabolic short technology. The project is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs and is estimated to avoid more than 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is equivalent to the greenhouse emissions of more than 23,000 vehicles. The department's loan guarantees play a critical role in facilitating the large-scale deployment of innovative green energy technology, including loans for advanced vehicle technologies. The department has committed financing to support 27 clean energy projects that would create or save over 60,000 jobs across the United States.

Today, we're in a global race to develop and deploy clean energy technology. We either could sit on the sidelines and watch this competition pass us by, or we can get in the race and play to win. And when we rev up the great American innovation machine, we can out compete any other nation. To spur innovation and grow the domestic clean energy market, President Obama has proposed doubling the amount of electricity we generate from clean energy sources by 2035. Investments in projects like Blythe solar project will help us meet this goal, while creating jobs and positioning the United States to lead in the solar industry. Now I'd like to invite Governor Brown to speak.

Governor Jerry Brown: Thank you secretary. We really appreciate the confidence and the investment. California has been in the lead for a very long time, going back more than 30 years, but that just indicates that we must have a long-term perspective, and we must keep at it. So, this is really good news. It's important, and it's another step on our journey to 1/3 renewable energy. And we think we can get to 40% very soon. Our goal of 1/3 is by 2020, and by own specific goal is that we get 20,000 megawatts by 2020. 20,000 megawatts-12,000 of photovoltaic and 8,000 of central-based like the one that you are supporting today. So, it is exciting. There's a great future. We have a lot of sun to harness, and we need the technology and the capital and the regulatory encouragement that you're showing We're doing everything we can to second that and support the national effort here in California.

Uwe Schmidt: Without strong commitment and great resolve, great things cannot be achieved in business or in government. Today, all of us at Solar Trust of America would like to recognize President Obama and his entire administration for its call to action and for charting a new course for sustainable and renewable energy in the future. We'd like to especially acknowledge and thank Secretary Chu, Mr. Suliver, and the Department of Energy Loan Program team for their commitment and resolve in pushing forward our conditional loan agreement. We applaud Governor Brown for his continued support of the renewable energy industry, evidenced again last week with the signing of California's new 33% renewable portfolio standard. And we thank all members of congress, who despite their timely and valiant efforts to decrease the 2011 federal budget had the foresight to keep intact the loan guarantee program that is so critical to all Americans.

Today marks a significant milestone for Solar Trust of America and the Blythe solar power project, the world's largest solar facility. When we created Solar Trust just over 18 months ago, my management and I set forth an ambitious agenda to bring solar into the ranks of conventional forms of energy. We envisioned a gigawatt-scale solar plant that would provide clean and reliable renewable energy to major population centers. The Blythe Solar Power Project sets a new standard for solar energy the world over. By the time we are done, the 1,000 megawatt Blythe facility will generate more concentrated solar power than all of the concentrated solar plants operating in the world today combined. The sheer scale of Blythe will provide a significant economic impact throughout the country. The $2.8 billion first phase of the Blythe project will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy and create 7,500 good jobs across ten states. The Blythe project will create 1,000 local construction jobs, where unemployment has hovered at around 14%. It will put Midwest steel mills back to work by using more steel than is in the Golden Gate bridge and will create a massive supply stream as steel, equipment, and parts flow from the Midwest to the southwest for final assembly and installation. This supply chain will remain active for the next decade to service all of our projects, because Blythe is just the beginning for Solar Trust of America. Our plan is to revolutionize the way we generate energy here in the United States. We're already working on an additional 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects throughout the American Southwest, with more to come. We pride ourselves on employing tried and tested principles of the old economy in the new economy world of clean energy. We use proven technology that reduces risks and closely manage the entire supply chain to help ensure that projects stay on time and on budget. Perhaps one of the most important benefits that the Blythe solar power facility will achieve is that for the first time in mankind's history, a solar power facility will have been built at a scale and output capacity equal to the very largest coal fired and nuclear power plants operating in the world today. With today's milestone achieved, thanks to the DOE, the U.S. will have seriously entered our generation's version of the space race of the 1960s, namely the solar race of the 21st century. And ladies and gentleman, this not only as a contender but as a global leader. Thank you.


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