Coalinga solar deal appears to fall through

Coalinga lost a proposed power plant that was to collect solar energy during the day and burn biomass at night, according to a series of recent reports.

Todd Woody of the New York Times wrote in his blog last week that Portuguese company Martifer Renewables cancelled its plans after signing a 20-year power-purchase deal with PG&E for 106.8 megawatts. The plants were to cover 640 acres.

Woody wrote that in a letter to the California Energy Commission on June 17, "Miguel Lobo, a Martifer executive, wrote, 'We were not able at this time to resolve some of our issues regarding project economics and biomass supply amongst other things.' Although local residents and regulators had raised issues about the proposed solar farm’s water consumption and other impacts, it was the project’s plan to operate around the clock by burning biomass that proved problematic, according to energy commission records."

Martifer had expected to pick up 450,000 tons a year of prunings, clippings and other agricultural waste within 70 miles of the power plant, Woody wrote.

Katie Fehrenbacher of wrote that big solar projects are problematic: "Back in early 2008, Western GeoPower canceled a contract with PG&E whereby the utility would have purchased renewable energy from a geyser-fueled geothermal power plant located about 75 miles north of San Francisco. OptiSolar also sold its massive solar project and PG&E contract to thin film solar darling First Solar, who still plans to complete the project."