PG&E announced plans to purchase power from a solar-thermal power plant to be built in rural San Luis Obispo County. The Carrizo Solar Energy Farm Project is expected to deliver 177 megawatts per day by 2010 and cover one square mile of land outside the Carrizo Plains National Monument. It's expected to create an estimated 100 permanent jobs in the county, as well as 350 jobs during its construction.
The plant marks an important step for the utilities company, which needs to increase the amount of power generated by renewable sources to 20 percent of its total energy output by 2010 as part of the state-mandated program to expand California's renewable energy profile.
Solar-thermal energy plants use heat from the sun's rays to boil water and create steam that moves turbines. Company officials pledge that the plant will burn no fuel, create no air or water emissions, and will waste minimal water.