LOS ANGELES Oct 25 California regulators on
Thursday approved two power purchase contracts between solar
thermal power plant developer BrightSource Energy and utility
Southern California Edison but rejected three others.
The approvals allow BrightSource to sell power to SCE from
one solar tower at its Rio Mesa site and from another at its
Sonoran West site, both in Riverside County, California.
BrightSource and SCE had submitted two power purchase
agreements for approval at Rio Mesa, but California Public
Utilities Commission staff said "the projects compare poorly on
price and value relative to other solar thermal projects."
The commission nonetheless approved one of the projects,
because BrightSource said it would need to demonstrate that
technology before it would be able to finance and build a plant
that utilizes energy storage technology.
BrightSource's Sonoran West project will be the first to use
molten salt storage, and the CPUC said that contract compared
favorably on price relative to other solar thermal projects.
BrightSource is nearly finished building its first major
solar thermal plant, Ivanpah, in the California desert. It is
expected to enter service in 2013.
"The approval of these contracts allows us to build on the
technology innovations deployed at our Ivanpah project, and
continue driving down costs and improving efficiencies in our
next generation plants, while incorporating storage into our
power tower systems," BrightSource Chief Executive John Woolard
said in a statement.
Two other projects utilizing energy storage, Siberia 1 and
Siberia 2, were also considered cost-competitive. They were
rejected by the commission, however, due to uncertainty
regarding transmission availability.
BrightSource, which is based in Oakland, California, on
Wednesday said it raised $80 million in a new financing round.
SCE is a unit of Edison International.