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For Immediate Release: October 31, 2007
Media Contact: Percy D. Della - 916-654-4989

Solar Thermal Plant Accepted for Review

Sacramento - The California Energy Commission today accepted an application to build a solar thermal power plant -- the first large solar thermal facility proposed in 16 years.

By a vote of 4-0, the Energy Commission determined that the proposed 400-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System was data adequate - meaning the Commission has enough information to begin a yearlong licensing process. Immediately after accepting the application, the Commission named two panel members to make up the committee that would lead the 12-month review and assure that requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act are met.

Commissioner Jeffery Byron will be presiding member, with Vice-Chairman James D. Boyd as associate member.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a project to develop three solar thermal power plants and shared facilities near Ivanpah Dry Lake in San Bernardino County, on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Energy Commission and the BLM have entered into an agreement for a joint review of thermal projects above 50 megawatts on federal land.

If licensed, the proposed project would be constructed in three phases: two 100-megawatt (MW) phases (known as Ivanpah 1 and Ivanpah 2) and a 200-MW phase (Ivanpah 3). The three plants are collectively referred to as the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) and would be located in the Mojave Desert close to the California-Nevada border.

The ISEGS includes three solar concentrating thermal power plants, based on distributed power tower and heliostat mirror technology, in which heliostat (mirror) fields focus solar energy on power tower receivers near the center of each heliostat array. The total area required for all three phases would be 3,400-acres (or 5.3 square miles).

If approved by the Commission, construction of the project is expected to begin in early 2009, and targeted for completion in late 2012.

Throughout the project's 12-month licensing process, the Energy Commission will conduct public workshops and hearings in San Bernardino County regarding the proposed plan to determine whether it should be approved for construction and operation and under what set of conditions. More information on the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is available on the Energy Commission website at:


Currently, there are three thermal projects totaling 627 MW being reviewed by the Commission. Another 3870 MW from 12 solar thermal projects have announced their intention but have not applied to build.

The last large solar thermal facilities in California were the nine Solar Energy Generating Station (SEGS) projects built in the Mojave Desert area.

They came on line between 1984 to 1990 and totaled 354 MW of electric generating capacity. The Commission reviewed three more SEGS projects, the last one filing an application in 1991. One was approved but never completed construction; the Commission terminated the proceedings for the other two.

Since deregulation occurred in 1998, the Energy Commission has licensed or given small power plant exemptions to 63 power plants, totaling 23,546 MW. Forty licensed power plants are in operation, producing 13,087 MW. Since Governor Schwarzenegger took office, 18 of these power plants, totaling 6,913 MW, have been approved. In addition, 18 power plant projects are active in the Energy Commission's review process, representing 7329 MW. More information about Energy Commission power plant projects is available at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/all_projects.html.

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