According to an article in my newspaper written by Dana Hull of the Mercury News, about half of the currently approved or proposed solar power projects in California are switching from solar thermal to photovoltaic (PV) technology. This change is occurring due to the cost of Chinese-made solar panels which are said to be very cheap right now. The article also says that it is faster to put up solar panels, compared with solar thermal. Paula Mints, a solar industry analyst with Navgant Consulting says that it takes about two years to build thermal, but with solar panels there is "more instant gratification".
In particular, the 1000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project in Riverside County was originally planned as a solar thermal plant, but the German company that developed Blythe, announced in August that it planned to convert the first 500-MW phase of the massive power plant to PV. Other plants that are going PV include Beacon Solar, Calico Solar, Palen Solar and Imperial Valley Solar.
The article also mentions that the California electricity rate payers are getting screwed by the long-term power contracts that are being approved by the State PUC. The approved power rates from one recent contract is said to be twice what the typical renewable energy costs per MW.