California commission sets dates for Palen solar project review

The California Energy Commission committee reviewing the proposed amendment to the Palen Solar Electric Generating System Project will hold an Oct. 24 prehearing conference and Oct. 28-30 evidentiary hearings.

The prehearing conference will assess the parties’ (petitioner, staff, and intervenors) readiness for the evidentiary hearings, the commission said in an Oct. 17 notice. The committee reviewing the project will identify areas of agreement or dispute and discuss the remaining schedule and procedures needed to conclude the amendment review process. The hearings will establish the factual record that the committee will use to issue a proposed decision. The proposed decision will later be presented to the full commission for final action.

In December 2010, the commission approved the 500-MW Palen Solar Power Project using parabolic trough technology. In December 2012, the new project owner 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 known as the Palen Solar Electric Generating System, is Palen Solar Holdings LLC, a joint venture of BrightSource Energy and Abengoa.

The proposed project consists of two 250-MW solar plants. Each plant would have about 85,000 heliostats. Heliostats are elevated mirrors used to focus the sun’s rays on a solar receiver that produces steam to generate electricity. The solar receiver would be located on top of a 750-foot-tall power tower near the center of each solar field. The project is located about 10 miles east of Desert Center, halfway between Indio and Blythe, in eastern Riverside County.

If the commission approves the Palen amendment, construction is expected to last 33 months. The project would average 998 workers during construction with a peak of 2,311. Up to 100 workers will be needed when the project is operational. The estimated capital cost for the project is $2bn, according to the project owner.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.