For Immediate Release: October 17, 2013
Media Contact: Sandy Louey - 916-654-4989


Prehearing Conference and Evidentiary Hearings for Palen Solar Electric Generating System Project

What: The California Energy Commission committee reviewing the proposed amendment to the Palen Solar Electric Generating System Project will hold a prehearing conference and evidentiary hearings.

When: Thursday, October 24, 2013, beginning at 9 a.m. for prehearing conference
Monday, October 28, 2013 to Wednesday, October 30, 2013, beginning at 10 a.m. each day for evidentiary hearings

Where: Prehearing conference: California Energy Commission, Hearing Room A, 1516 Ninth Street, Sacramento, California, 95814

Evidentiary hearings: University of California, Riverside, Palm Desert Campus, Building B Auditorium, 75080 Frank Sinatra Drive, Palm Desert, California 92211

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

Why: The prehearing conference will assess the parties' (petitioner, staff, and intervenors) readiness for the evidentiary hearings. The committee reviewing the project will identify areas of agreement or dispute and discuss the remaining schedule and procedures needed to conclude the amendment review process.

The hearings will establish the factual record that the committee will use to issue a proposed decision. The proposed decision will later be presented to the full Commission for final action.

Background and next steps: In December 2010, the Commission approved the 500-MW Palen Solar Power Project using 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 known as 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. 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 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 project is located about 10 miles east of Desert Center, halfway between Indio and Blythe, in eastern Riverside County. It is located on 3,794 acres of public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which is separately reviewing the project.

If the Commission approves the Palen amendment, construction is expected to last 33 months. The project would average 998 workers during construction with a peak of 2,311. Up to 100 workers will be needed when the project is operational. The estimated capital cost for the project is $2 billion, according to the project owner.

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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. For more information, visit: or

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