SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday (Sept. 29) applauded the California Energy Commission (CEC) vote to approve the construction of the Genesis Solar Energy Project and the Imperial Valley Solar Project, which will create 959 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy and thousands of jobs in Southern California. With the CEC’s approvals today, California has approved six large-scale solar energy projects in the California desert totaling 2,829 MW.

“Today’s action solidly cements California as the national leader of solar power development,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I applaud the California Energy Commission’s decision to approve the construction of these solar projects that will increase our state’s renewable power, create jobs and boost our economy. I look forward to seeing these projects fully built and powering thousands of California homes with clean electricity.”

The two projects would be among the first commercial solar thermal power plants permitted on federal public land in the U.S. They still require a decision from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which approves the use of federal public lands, before it can proceed. The BLM’s actions are scheduled soon. Under the state’s groundbreaking agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior, the CEC has been working collaboratively with BLM to get projects through both state and federal land use permitting processes by the end of this year without cutting corners.

The Genesis project in Riverside County will require a peak construction workforce of 1,085, with another 50 operational jobs once built. The Imperial Valley project in Imperial County will require a peak construction workforce of 731, with another 164 operational jobs once built.

The 250-MW Genesis project and the 709-MW Imperial Valley project are the fifth and sixth large solar projects approved by the CEC over the past month. 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 BrightSource Energy’s 370-MW Ivanpah project, Abengoa’s 250-MW Mojave Solar Project and the 1,000-MW Blythe Solar Power Project. For more information on the projects, visit the CEC website at

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 MW 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 Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS): In 2009, the Governor signed an Executive Order directing the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to adopt regulations increasing the state’s RPS to 33 percent by 2020. The ARB adopted regulations earlier this month that place the highest priority on renewable resources that will provide the greatest environmental benefits that can be developed quickly and support reliable, efficient and cost-effective electricity system operations including resources and facilities located in California and throughout the Western Interconnection.

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.