For Immediate Release: December 2, 2009
Media Contact: Percy Della - 916-654-4989


Review starts for Rice Solar Energy Project

SACRAMENTO - The formal California Energy Commission review has started for the proposed Rice Solar Energy Project (RSEP) in unincorporated eastern Riverside County.

At a regular business meeting today, the Energy Commission found the application for certification (AFC) of the proposed 150-megawatt solar thermal facility data adequate.

Data adequacy means the Commission technical staff has received enough information from the applicant, SolarReserve LLC, of Santa Monica, California to begin the discovery phase of the review proceedings.

The Commission has named Energy Commissioner Julia Levin to lead the committee overseeing the project. Commissioner Art Rosenfeld is the associate committee member.

The committee will ensure that the project meets the Commission's siting requirements, as well as those of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Energy Commission is responsible for reviewing thermal electric power plants 50 MW and greater in California.

The Energy Commission works closely with the Bureau of Land Management in reviewing applications for large solar thermal power plants proposed on federal lands.

The Rice Solar project is proposed for construction on about 3200 acres of private land surrounded by BLM managed lands in eastern Riverside County adjacent to State Route 62. The nearest occupied residence is 15 miles northeast of the plant. The nearest town is Parker, Arizona 32 miles east.

The facility's generation tie-in line will connect to a Western Area Power Administration interconnection 10 miles southeast of the plant. Part of the project's transmission lines will cross BLM-managed land, necessitating both state and federal review of the facility.

The proposed facility will use concentrating solar power (CSP) technology, with a central receiver tower and an integrated thermal storage system.

The RSEP's technology generates power from sunlight by focusing energy from a field of sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats onto a central receiver. Liquid salt (a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate) mixed onsite will be circulated through tubes in the receiver, collecting the energy gathered from the sun. The heated salt is then routed to an insulated storage tank where it can be stored with minimal energy losses. When electricity is to be generated, the hot molten salt is routed to heat exchangers, a steam generation system. The steam is then used to generate electricity in a conventional steam turbine cycle. After exiting the steam generation system, the salt is sent to the cold salt thermal storage tank and the cycle is repeated.

More information on the Rice Solar Energy Project is available at:

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