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Sempra Moving Ahead with CA Solar Contract Despite Lawsuits

Sempra Energy's utility arm, San Diego Gas & Electric Co., plans to buy energy from a massive solar project contested by California tribes.
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San Diego Gas & Electric Co., the utility branch of Sempra Energy, is going forward with a contract to buy solar energy from a power project in California’s Imperial Valley now that a developer co-owned by AES Corp. has taken over the project from Tessera Solar, Dow Jones reported on February 18.

AES Solar acquired the 709-megawatt solar-thermal power project last week. The power-purchase agreement between Tessera and San Diego Gas & Electric was that the latter would buy 300 megawatts of power from the plant. Tessera got permission and permits to build it using SunCatcher Stirling technology rather than solar panels, which leave a larger footprint.

The Imperial Valley project as well as the Calico Solar project, which also used to be owned by Tessera, are both tied up in court with lawsuits over the fast-track environmental permitting that the state and federal governments used to get the projects moving quickly.

They are two of six California solar projects being held up by American Indian concerns about the lack of oversight into how such large-scale solar projects would affect the environment, sacred sites and emblematic wildlife. They include the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, among others.