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NextEra: Genesis Solar Project Flooding Won't Delay Opening

Parabolic trough solar similar to that slated for the Genesis site | Photo courtesy NexEra Energy Resources

Recent flooding at NextEra's Genesis Solar Power Project in Riverside County did some damage, but will not delay the construction or opening of the 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant, a NextEra representative tells ReWire.

Steve Stengel, NextEra's communications director, told ReWire that the plant is still scheduled to start generating 125 megawatts of electricity as scheduled in 2013, with the remainder of the plant's capacity coming online a year later.

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The July 31 flood was the latest speedbump for the $1 billion project, which has seen partial construction halts due to the discovery of evidence of prehistoric settlement, and the site's desert kit fox population contracting distemper late in 2011.

Stengel took issue with ReWire's mention of the possible extent of the flood damage as "hundreds of millions of dollars," which was based on preliminary conversations with state and federal agency staff. "We're still assessing the damage," Stengel told ReWire, "but our estimate is that the site incurred less than $5 million in damage from the 100-year flood in July."

"We did lose some mirrors," Stengel said, "and some of the roads are damaged. We'll have to replace those. But we're still on track to start generating power in 2013."

The project, sited on public land north of Ford Dry Lake in eastern Riverside County, has received federal loan guarantees covering $825 million of its $1 billion price tag. Florida-based NextEra's nearby 750-megawatt McCoy project, which would occupy 7,700 acres of land near Blythe, was on a list of seven renewable energy projects placed on expedited "fast-track" status for environmental review by the Obama administration yesterday. The company operates the Solar Energy Generating System complex at Kramer Junction and Harper Lake.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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