For Immediate Release: December 21, 2012
Media Contact: Sandy Louey - 916-654-4989


Final Staff Assessment Released for
Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission staff today released its final environmental analysis concerning the licensing of the proposed Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System.

The final staff assessment (FSA) concluded that the proposed 500-megawatt (MW) solar thermal power project would have significant environmental impacts in the areas of biological resources, cultural resources, land use, and visual resources even with the implementation of staff's recommended mitigation measures. Impacts in the other technical areas are less than significant or can be mitigated to levels that are less than significant. The project would comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards (LORS) except in the area of land use, which would require Inyo County to amend its land use requirements.

Unmitigated environmental impacts and non-compliance with applicable laws and regulations would require the Commission to adopt override findings if the project is approved. The overrides are required to comply with state law, according to the FSA.

The FSA is available at:

The FSA is not a committee document or a proposed decision on the project. The document represents the Commission staff's independent assessment of the project's potential impacts on the environment, public health and safety, and compliance with all LORS. The FSA provides the detailed environmental impact assessment required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

The document will serve as Commission staff's testimony at evidentiary hearings that the committee of two commissioners reviewing the proposed project will hold. The committee will issue a proposed decision based on evidence presented at the hearings. The proposed decision will be presented to the full Commission for a final decision on the project.

BrightSource Energy, Inc. is the applicant for the Hidden Hills project. The project consists of two 250-MW solar plants. Each plant would have about 85,000 heliostats - 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 atop a 750-foot tall power tower near the center of each solar field.

The proposed project would be located on 3,277 acres of private land leased in Inyo County next to the Nevada border. The project site is about eight miles south of Pahrump, Nevada and about 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The transmission line and the natural gas pipeline would be located in Nevada on public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The capital cost for the project is estimated to be $2.2 billion. If the project is approved, construction would take about 29 months with work scheduled to start the second quarter of 2013 and end the fourth quarter of 2015. The two solar plants would be constructed concurrently, with a planned three-month delay between their commercial operation dates. The project would require an average of 1,087 workers during construction, with a peak of 2,293 in the 19th month. Once the project is operational, 100 workers would be needed, according to the applicant.

More information on the Hidden Hills project is available at:

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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.