SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday (Sept. 22) applauded the California Energy Commission (CEC) vote to approve the construction of BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System which will produce 370 megawatt (MW) of clean, renewable energy and create jobs in the Mojave Desert.

“The construction of this renewable energy plant is great news for the environment and our economy, and I commend the developers and the California Energy Commission for working together to move this project forward while minimizing the impact on the desert environment,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Today’s announcement serves as more evidence that solar and renewable power are creating jobs and are the future of the California economy. I applaud the California Energy Commission’s decision to approve the construction of the Ivanpah project which will eventually power nearly 150,000 homes with clean, renewable energy.”

The project would be among the first commercial solar thermal power plants permitted on federal public land in the U.S. It still requires a decision from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which approves the use of federal public lands, before it can proceed. The BLM’s action is scheduled for October. For more information on the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System project, visit the CEC website at

The Ivanpah project is the fourth large solar project approved by the CEC over the past few weeks. In August, the Commission approved NextEra’s 250 MW Beacon project—the first large solar project to be approved in the U.S. in two decades. Earlier this month, the CEC also approved Abengoa’s 250-MW Mojave Solar Project and the 1,000-MW Blythe Solar Power Project. By the end of September, they are expected to vote on Tessera/Stirling’s 750-MW Imperial Project and NextEra’s 250-MW Genesis Project.

These projects are part of a group of nine solar thermal projects scheduled to go before the commission for decisions by the end of the year in order to qualify for federal stimulus dollars. More than 4,300 megawatts of solar power will be added if all nine projects are approved. The nine projects would provide more than 8,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 operational jobs.

In addition to the solar thermal projects the CEC is permitting, there are more than a dozen other large solar photovoltaic and wind projects seeking permits to break ground in California this year. In contrast to this year, 67-MW of central-station utility scale solar were added in 2009 nationwide, and only 34-MW in 2008.

Governor Schwarzenegger has a strong and proven commitment to expanding California’s clean energy that will create jobs, influence national policies and provide a cleaner environment for future generations. In October of 2009, the Governor and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar signed a historic MOU so that the state and federal government could work together to ensure timely permitting of renewable energy projects. In March, the Governor signed into law a new program to make it easier to conserve land for endangered species and for developers to build renewable energy projects in California. The program, created by SB X8 34, by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will help further streamline and expedite the permitting and siting process for large-scale renewable energy projects that will provide jobs and greater energy independence and attract investment. Other actions to promote clean, renewable energy in California include:

Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS): Governor Schwarzenegger signed an Executive Order directing the California Air Resources Board to adopt regulations increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 33 percent by 2020.

Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32): Signed by the Governor in 2006, AB 32 established a first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The law will reduce carbon emissions in California to 1990 levels by 2020.

Green Tech Sales Tax Exemption: Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 71 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) in 2010 exempting all clean technology manufacturing equipment from sales tax, allowing California to maintain a competitive edge by expanding the range of projects. This targeted sales tax exemption does not cost the state tax dollars and increases revenue by expanding the number of clean technology manufacturing companies with sites in California.

Million Solar Roofs Initiative: The Governor’s $2.9 billion incentive plan for home and building owners who install solar electric systems, now known as the California Solar Initiative, will lead to one million solar roofs in California by the year 2018, provide 3,000 megawatts of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million tons.