For Immediate Release: July 10, 2013
Media Contact: Sandy Louey - 916-654-4989


Workshops to be held July 17, 22, 25, and 26 for Palen Solar Electric Generating System

What: : The California Energy Commission staff will hold workshops for the proposed Palen Solar Electric Generating System project.

When: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, beginning at 9 a.m.
Monday, July 22, 2013, beginning at 11 a.m.
Thursday, July 25, 2013, beginning at 9 a.m.
Friday, July 26, 2013, beginning at 9 a.m.

Where: The workshops will be held in two locations:
July 17, 25, and 26 workshops: California Energy Commission, Hearing Room B, 1516 Ninth Street, Sacramento, California, 95814

July 22 workshop:
University of California at Riverside, Palm Desert Campus, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, B Building, Rooms B114-B117, Palm Desert, California, 92211

If you're unable to attend the workshops, you can participate by telephone and/or by computer by visiting this site:

Why: The workshops are being held to allow Commission staff, the applicant, interested agencies, intervenors and the public to ask questions and comment on the preliminary staff assessment (PSA). The PSA released on June 28 can be found here:

The technical areas to be discussed at each workshop are:

  • July 17 - Geology and paleontology; general conditions; hazardous materials management; soil and water resources; transmission line safety and nuisance; waste management; and worker safety and fire protection.
  • July 22 - Cultural resources.
  • July 25 - Air quality; biological resources; facility design; land use; noise and vibration; power plant efficiency and reliability; public health; socioeconomics; traffic and transportation; transmission system engineering; and visual resources.
  • July 26 - Set aside as continuance workshop if there are any items from July 17 or 25 that could not be covered. It will be announced at the end of the July 25 workshop if the July 26 meeting is cancelled.

The PSA serves as the staff's initial evaluation of the environmental, engineering, public health and safety impacts of the proposed facility. The PSA is not a decision nor does it contain final findings of the Commission related to the environmental impacts or the project's compliance with local, state and federal legal requirements.

After receiving public comments and conducting public workshops on the PSA, Commission staff will publish a final staff assessment, which will serve as staff's testimony at evidentiary hearings conducted by the committee of two commissioners reviewing the proposed project. 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.

Background and Next Steps:

In December 2010, the Commission approved the 500-MW Palen Solar Power Project, which would use 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 called the Palen Solar Electric Generating System, is Palen Solar Holdings, LLC, a joint venture of BrightSource Energy, Inc. and Abengoa.

The proposed project consists of two 250-MW solar plants for a total of 500 MW. Each plant would have about 85,000 heliostats for a total of 170,000 heliostats. Heliostats are elevated mirrors used to focus the sun's rays on a solar receiver which 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 project site is located about 10 miles east of Desert Center, halfway between Indio and Blythe, in eastern Riverside County. The applicant is seeking a right-of-way grant for approximately 5,200 acres of federal public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management which is separately reviewing the project under the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition to the technology change, the amended project was reconfigured to 3,794 acres, a smaller footprint than either of the two alternative configurations approved in the original Commission decision.

The project owner has provided an estimated capital cost for construction of the project as $2 billion.

If the Commission approves the Palen amendment, the project owner plans to start construction during the fourth quarter of 2013 with commercial operation in June 2016. The project would average 998 workers during construction with a peak of 2,311. Up to 100 workers would be needed when the project is operational, according to the project owner.

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