CEC hearing and site visit set Feb. 20 on Palen solar

SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission committee reviewing the proposed Palen Solar Electric Generating System amendment will hold a site visit and informational hearing.

When: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, beginning at 1 p.m.

Where: Coachella Valley History Museum, 82-616 Miles Avenue, Indio, California

Before the hearing, the public is invited to join the committee on a tour of the proposed site. Transportation to the site leaves the museum at 1 p.m. The informational hearing starts at 3 p.m. at the museum with public comment scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

Reservations for the site visit should be made before February 13 by contacting the Commission’s Public Adviser’s Office at (916) 654-4489 or 1-800-822-6228 or email publicadviser@energy.ca.gov.

Arrangements have been made for people unable to attend the hearing to participate by telephone and/or computer. For details, click the link and scroll to page 6: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/palen/compliance/notices/2013-02-20_Notice_of_Informational_Hearing_Environmental_Scoping_Meeting_and_Public_Site_Visit_TN-69324.pdf

Why: The hearing will provide an opportunity for the public to obtain information about the project, offer comments, and view the proposed site. The applicant will explain the plans for changing the project, while Commission staff will discuss the amendment process.

What: In December 2010, the Commission approved the 500-megawatt (MW) Palen Solar Power Project, which would use parabolic trough technology. In December 2012, the new owners of the project filed an amendment with the Commission requesting to change the technology from parabolic trough to solar power tower.

The applicant for the amended project, now called the Palen Solar Electric Generating System, is Palen Solar Holdings, LLC, a joint venture of BrightSource Energy, Inc. and Caithness Energy, LLC.

The proposed project consists of two 250-MW solar plants for a total of 500 MW. Each plant would have about 85,000 heliostats. Heliostats are elevated mirrors used to focus the sun’s rays on a solar receiver which produces steam to generate electricity. The solar receiver would be located atop a 750-foot tall power tower near the center of each solar field.

The project site is located about 10 miles east of Desert Center, halfway between Indio and Blythe, in eastern Riverside County. The applicant is seeking a right-of-way grant for approximately 5,200 acres of federal public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

In addition to the technology change, the amended project was reconfigured to 3,794 acres, a smaller footprint than either of the two alternative configurations approved in the original Commission decision.

If the Commission approves the Palen amendment, construction would start the fourth quarter of 2013 with commercial operation in June 2016. The estimated capital cost for the project would be $2 billion. 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 operational, according to the applicant.

More information on the proposed Palen amendment can be found here: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/palen/compliance/


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