July 11 California regulators will hold several
workshops to discuss the proposed 500-megawatt (MW) Palen solar
power plant, which could provide electricity for more than
Privately-held California solar power company BrightSource
Energy and Spanish engineering firm Abengoa SA are
developing the Palen project, which is estimated to cost about
$2 billion to build.
The California Energy Commission said it will hold meetings
on July 17, 22, 25 and 26 to allow Commission staff, the
applicant, interested agencies, the public, and others to ask
questions and comment on the preliminary staff assessment
released on June 28.
In that assessment, the staff found the amended project
would comply with all applicable laws, ordinances and
The staff, however, said it needed more information about
air quality and greenhouse gases, biological resources, cultural
resources, traffic and transportation, waste management, worker
safety and other things. It will make a final determination on
the proposed project when all information is provided.
After receiving public comments, the Commission said the
staff will publish a final assessment to be considered by the
agency as part of its decision making process.
The Commission approved the Palen project in December 2010,
but had to look at the project again in December 2012 when the
new project owner filed an amendment requesting to change the
technology from parabolic trough to solar power tower.
Parabolic trough technology uses curved mirrors to reflect
sunlight on a tube that contains a fluid, which is heated to
high temperatures. The hot fluid is used to create steam that
turns a turbine and generates electricity.
Solar power tower technology uses mirrors to reflect
sunlight on solar receivers on top of a tower, heating water to
create superheated steam that is piped to a turbine that
Abengoa will build the project and operate the plant once
online. BrightSource will provide the solar technology and plant
design, according to the project's website.
The proposed project consists of two 250-MW solar plants for
a total of 500 MW. Each plant would have about 85,000
heliostats, or elevated mirrors, for a total of 170,000
heliostats, the Commission said.
The solar receiver would be located atop a 750-foot tall
power tower near the center of each solar field.
The companies want to build Palen in eastern Riverside
County about 175 miles (282 km) east of Los Angeles.
The developers are seeking a right-of-way grant for about
5,200 acres of federal public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of
Land Management, which is also reviewing the project, the
In addition to the technology change, the Commission said
the amended project was reconfigured to a smaller 3,794-acre
If the Commission approves the amended plan, the developers
have said they expect to start construction during the fourth
quarter of 2013, with commercial operation in June 2016, the
The project would average 998 workers during construction
with a peak of 2,311. Up to 100 workers would be needed when the
project is operating, the developers have told the Commission.