On Monday, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the sale of power from SolarReserve's 150-megawatt Rice Solar Energy Project to Pacific Gas & Electric via a 25-year power purchase agreement. This project will be the first large-scale solar project in the state to include energy storage capabilities, SolarReserve reported.
* The Rice Solar Energy Project, located in eastern Riverside County and bearing a $750 million price tag, is expected to generate more than 5,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs during its 24-month construction period, the Santa Monica-based company stated.
* When complete, the Rice Energy Solar Project is expected to provide enough electricity to power more than 65,000 homes during peak electricity periods.
* The project -- now fully permitted -- will be located in the Sonoran Desert and will utilize a dry-cooled system to minimize water usage. It will use less than 20 percent of the water used per kilowatt of electricity produced by conventional coal or nuclear facilities, the company stated.
* Bloomberg reported that the agreement will begin on June 1, 2016.
* SolarReserve's energy storage capability comes from the use of thousands of mirrors that focus sunlight onto a central tower containing molten salt, Bloomberg reported, which is funneled through a steam generator to produce electricity. The salt retains heat and can produce power at night.
* "Eight to 10 hours of fully dispatchable storage is quite impressive and offers significant benefits to the system that we don't yet know how to quantify fully, but there's definitely value there," said CPUC Commissioner Mike Florio.
* According to SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith, the CPUC was clear that the storage ability was a key factor in approving the Rice contract. "This capability will be crucial as California progresses towards its 33 percent renewable target," said Smith.
* SalarReserve's technology allows from seven to more than 20 hours of full power energy storage and can operate on demand like a conventional coal, natural gas or nuclear power plant, the company stated.
* The flagship project for SolarReserve began construction in September 2011, near Tonopah, Nev. That plant, scheduled to be operational at the end of this year, features 10 hours of integrated energy storage and is the first commercial scale solar plant of its kind in the world, SolarReserve stated.
* The company received recognition recently, receiving an Award of Excellence in Corporate Stewardship at the 2012 Platts Global Energy Awards ceremony, held in late November. CEO Kevin Smith received the Rising Star award for Vision and Leadership for his dedication and entrepreneurship in the power and energy industry worldwide, SolarReserve announced.