PG&E and Ausra Sign 177 MW Solar Thermal
Renewable energy increasingly begins at home
Pacific Gas and Electric Company recently announced that it has entered into a 177 megawatt solar thermal power purchasing agreement with Ausra Inc. The project, to be located in central California, is being developed by Ausra.
The plant, to be located in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., is expected to begin generating power in 2010. Ausra has filed its Application for Certification for this plant with the California Energy Commission, which must grant approval before construction begins.
"Solar thermal technology provides our customers with a reliable source of clean renewable energy that is ideally suited to meet peak energy loads," said Fong Wan, vice president of energy procurement, PG&E. "By partnering with Ausra, we are taking another significant step in providing our customers with some of the cleanest energy in the nation."
Ausra projects that the power plant will create over 350 skilled jobs on-site during construction, and an additional 100 permanent jobs in the area. The plant will burn no fuel, use minimal water, and have no air or water emissions. At 177 megawatts of capacity, the project will use only one square mile (640 acres) of land due to the exceptional area efficiency of Ausra's collector technology.
"This 177-megawatt plant is the first manifestation of Ausra and PG&E's shared vision of competitively priced, large-scale solar electric power," said Glen Davis, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Ausra. "We're excited to be partnering with PG&E to deliver clean power at hours of peak demand."
Ausra's new Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar technology utilizes the heat from the sun's rays to create steam. Solar collectors boil water at high temperatures to power steam turbine generators, in much the same way as traditional fossil-fuel power plants, but without use of fuels or emissions.
At the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in September, PG&E and Ausra announced separate commitments to build and purchase 1,000 MW of solar thermal power over the next five years.
The agreement filed today with the California Public Utilities Commission is the latest example of PG&E's commitment to solar thermal technology. PG&E currently has 553 MW of solar thermal power under contract and is seeking regulatory approval of these purchasing agreements.
PG&E's solar thermal commitments are part of the company's broader renewable energy portfolio. PG&E currently supplies 12 percent of its energy from qualifying renewable sources under California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program. PG&E continues to aggressively add renewable electric power resources to its supply and is on target to exceed 20 percent under contract or delivered by 2010. On average, more than 50 percent of the energy PG&E delivers to its customers comes from generating sources that emit no carbon dioxide, providing among the cleanest energy in the nation.
California's RPS Program requires each utility to increase its procurement of eligible renewable generating resources by one percent of load per year to achieve a 20 percent renewables goal by 2010. The RPS Program was passed by the Legislature and is managed by California's Public Utilities Commission and Energy Commission.
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