California to hold meeting on NextEra Blythe solar power plant

Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:44pm EST

Nov 11 (Reuters) - California regulators will hold a public meeting on Nov. 12 with a unit of NextEra Energy Inc on environmental and other issues related to its proposed 485-megawatt Blythe solar photovoltaic power plant.

The California Energy Commission said in a press release on Friday its staff will discuss air quality, biological resources, paleontological resources, and soil and water resources it has found with the $1.13 billion project.

In September and October, the Commission staff issued an assessment that will serve as its testimony at an evidentiary hearing held by a committee of two Commissioners who are reviewing the project.

The committee will issue a proposal that will be presented to the full commission for a final decision on the project, the Commission said.

In September 2010, the Commission approved German renewable company Solar Millennium's proposal to build a 1,000-MW solar thermal power project using mirrors and sunlight to heat a fluid and generate power.

Solar Millennium wanted to build the plant on 7,043 acres of federal land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management near the town of Blythe in Riverside County about 225 miles (362 km) east of Los Angeles.

Solar Millennium went bankrupt at the end of 2011 and in June 2012 filed an amendment with the Commission to change the technology to solar photovoltaic.

In April 2013, the new project owner, a unit of NextEra, filed a revised amendment to reduce the project's physical size and generation capacity. It is the revised amendment the Commission is considering.

NextEra wants to build the 485-MW project on 4,070 acres of Bureau of Land Management land in four phases, with the first three each 125 MW and the fourth generating 110 MW.

NextEra has said construction is expected to last 48 months and employ an average of 341 workers. Once operational, NextEra it will take about 15 workers to run the plant.