BrightSource shelves second major solar project this year

LOS ANGELES, April 3 Wed Apr 3, 2013 7:43pm EDT

LOS ANGELES, April 3 (Reuters) - BrightSource Energy Inc on Wednesday shelved a major solar power project in California for the second time this year.

In a document filed with the California Energy Commission, BrightSource said it "has determined there is a need to suspend" its application to permit the 500 megawatt Hidden Hills solar thermal power project until further notice.

The company did not give a reason for the suspension, and company officials were not immediately available for comment.

BrightSource, based in Oakland, California, said it will continue to evaluate the project, which was to be located in Inyo County near the Nevada border.

In January, BrightSource suspended its 500 MW Rio Mesa project in Riverside County, California after multiple delays in the permitting process.

Late last year, CEC staff said the Hidden Hills project would have "significant" impact on the environment, adding that the use of photovoltaic solar panels "would be environmentally superior" to BrightSource's solar thermal technology.

BrightSource disputed those claims at recent hearings, and the CEC was expected to issue a final decision on the project later this year.

BrightSource, which canceled a planned initial public offering last year, in March said Spain's Abengoa would become a partner in its 500 MW Palen project in California. That project is awaiting regulatory approval.

BrightSource is more than 20 percent owned by French power equipment maker Alstom SA. Other investors include VantagePoint Capital Partners, DBL Investors, Goldman Sachs Inc , Chevron Technology Ventures and BP Ventures .

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