For Immediate Release: April 1, 2009
Media Contact: Percy Della - 916-654-4989


Attention City and Assignment Editors:

Preliminary staff assessment released for the
planned Beacon Solar Energy Project

What: The staff of the California Energy Commission has released its Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA) for the 250-megawatt Beacon Solar Energy Project (BSEP) in Kern County.

When: Today, Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where: The PSA is available on the Energy Commission's Website at:

Why: In its PSA, staff identifies several unresolved issues related to the construction and operation of the Beacon Solar Energy Project. Staff's preliminary analysis shows that, with the exception of Soils and Water Resources, and Visual Resources, the BSEP's potential impacts could be mitigated to a less than significant level. Staff believes the impacts to Visual Resources are not mitigatable.

Staff is currently waiting to receive from the applicant, new design data related to the engineering of the proposed diversion channel. At this time staff is unable to determine if the BSEP impacts to the floodplain and neighboring properties will be avoided or mitigated. Staff anticipates receiving this data from the applicant no later than April 30, 2009.

Staff's analysis concludes that as proposed, the BSEP would not comply with certain applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards (LORS), nor comply with state water policies that pertain to the use of fresh water in industrial applications and power plant cooling systems. BSEP's proposed use of potable groundwater for power plant cooling and the project's process and potable water needs would cause a significant adverse impact to potable water resources and could affect current and future users of groundwater.

The PSA serves as the staff's initial evaluation of the environmental, engineering, and public health and safety impacts of proposed power facilities. After 30-days of public comment and community workshops on the document, the Energy Commission will respond to all relevant comments and release its Final Staff Assessment (FSA). The FSA will serve as staff's testimony at the evidentiary hearings to be held in Kern County by the committee of two commissioners reviewing the case.

The project proposed by Beacon Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light Energy is a concentrated solar electric generating facility proposed on 2,000 plus acres in eastern Kern County, California. The project would use parabolic trough solar thermal technology to produce electrical power from a steam turbine generator, fed from a heat exchanger. If licensed by the Energy Commission, the solar thermal facility will begin construction in late 2009 or first quarter of 2010, with commercial operations beginning in approximately the fourth quarter of 2011.

Throughout the project's licensing review, the Energy Commission will conduct public workshops and hearings in Kern County on the proposed plant to determine whether it should be certified for a license and under what set of conditions.

More information on the Beacon Solar Energy project is available at:

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