On January 21st, 2011 Solar Millennium LLC (Berkeley, California, U.S.) withdrew its application for the 250MW Ridgecrest Solar 1 concentrating solar power (CSP) project.
In a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the California Energy Commission (CEC), the company states that a review of the process and staff position on the project "strongly suggests success is unlikely".
"The issues faced by Ridgecrest Solar are not dissimilar from the other renewable projects," states Solar Millennium in the letter. "A review of the record strongly suggests California agency’s staff is unlikely to be open to a recommendation of approval… in light of these circumstances, it would not be economically viable to continue to pursue either the study or the project."
According to the letter, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) has identified Ridgecrest as a site to protect from development. Solar Millennium also notes that in informal conversations the CEC committee expressed a preference to preserve the Ridgecrest site in its current state.
A team of federal agencies is currently developing the DRECP, with the stated goal of facilitating renewable energy project review and approval processes for the Mojave and Colorado deserts. This goal includes providing binding, long-term endangered species permit assurances.
The team released a "framework conservation strategy" outline in November 2010, and plans to release a draft document in March 2011. A timeline for development of the DRECP, coordination with various agencies and integration of the plan with various environmental law process projects that these processes will last through January 2013. Solar Millennium LLC is a subsidiary of Solar Millennium AG (Erlangen, Germany).