Workshop for Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System and Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating Facility

Sacramento – The California Energy Commission staff will conduct a workshop for the proposed Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System and the proposed Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating Facility.

When: Wednesday, August 8, 2012, beginning at 10 a.m.

Where: California Energy Commission, Hearing Room B, 1516 Ninth Street, Sacramento, California.

Arrangements have been made for people unable to attend the workshop to participate by telephone and/or by computer. For details, click the link and scroll to page 5:

Why: The workshop is being held to allow staff, the applicant, interested agencies, and the public to discuss biological resources, specifically the applicant’s response to data request No. 159 for the Rio Mesa project in connection with solar power intensity and the potential impacts. The workshop is being conducted jointly since both projects share the same applicant, technology, and potential impacts to birds and bats. Other issues associated with the proposed projects may be discussed.

What: BrightSource Energy, Inc. is the applicant for the Hidden Hills and Rio Mesa projects. Both are 500-megawatt (MW) solar thermal power projects.

Each project consists of two 250-MW solar plants. Each plant would have about 85,000 heliostats – elevated mirrors used to focus the sun’s rays on a solar receiver – that produces steam to generate electricity. The solar receiver is located atop a 750-foot tall power tower near the center of each solar field.

The proposed Hidden Hills project would be located on 3,277 acres of private land leased in Inyo County next to the Nevada border. The project site is about eight miles south of Pahrump, Nevada and about 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The transmission line and the natural gas pipeline would be located in Nevada on public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The capital cost for the Hidden Hills project is estimated to be $2.7 billion. If the project is approved, construction would be completed by the third or fourth quarter of 2015. Commercial operation of the first solar plant would begin the third quarter of 2015, with the second solar plant starting operation in the fourth quarter of 2015. The project would require an average of 637 workers during the 29-month construction period, with a peak of 1,033 needed during the 14th month. Once the project is operational, 120 workers would be needed, according to the applicant.

The proposed Rio Mesa project would be located on the Palo Verde Mesa in Riverside County, about 13 miles southwest of Blythe. The proposed 3,805-acre site would be located on private land leased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The project gen-tie line, emergency and construction electrical power supply land, and primary access road would be located on federal land administered by the BLM.

The project had originally been submitted to the Commission in October 2011 as a 750-MW project. The site was proposed on approximately 5,750 acres located partially on private land and partially on public land administered by the BLM.

In July 2012, BrightSource filed an amended application for certification that removed the northernmost 250-MW power plant that would have been on BLM land. The company made the change in response to issues raised during the early review process including cultural resources, biological resources, transmission corridor conflicts, and scheduling concerns from BLM.

The estimated capital construction cost for the 500-MW Rio Mesa project is about $2 billion. If the project is approved, construction of the facility, from site preparation and grading to commercial operation, would take place from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2016. The project would average 840 workers a month during the projected three-year construction period, with a maximum of 2,200 at the peak. Up to 100 full-time employees would be needed when the project is operating, according to the applicant.