Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System Project

The California Energy Commission issued the following news release:

The California Energy Commission staff today released its preliminary analysis of the proposed Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System project.

In the preliminary staff assessment (PSA), Commission staff concluded, in all but six technical sections, with the implementation of recommended mitigation measures described in the conditions of certification, the proposed 500-megawatt (MW) solar thermal power project would comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards (LORS) and that environmental impacts would be less than significant.

The six technical areas with either a significant, unmitigated impact, LORS non-compliance, or outstanding issues that need to be resolved through additional data, further discussion and/or analysis are: biological resources, land use, socioeconomics, worker safety/fire protection, transmission system engineering, and visual resources. The cultural resources section will be in a supplemental staff assessment that is scheduled to be filed on or before June 15.

The PSA is available at:

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 a public comment period on the PSA, which will include two workshops scheduled for next month, staff will release a final staff assessment (FSA). The FSA 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.

The applicant for the project is Hidden Hills Solar Holdings, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of BrightSource Energy, Inc. The proposed project consists of two 250-MW solar thermal power plants. Each plant would use about 85,000 heliostats - elevated mirrors guided by a tracking system mounted on a pylon - to focus the sun's rays on a solar receiver that produces steam to generate electricity. The solar receiver is located atop a 750-foot tall solar power tower near the center of each solar field.

The 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 $2.7 billion. If the project is approved, construction would be completed by the third or fourth quarter of 2015. Commercial operation of the first solar plant would begin the third quarter of 2015, with the second solar plant starting operation in the fourth quarter of 2015. The project would require an average of 637 workers during the 29-month construction period, with a peak of 1,033 needed during the 14th month. There would be 120 workers needed when the project is operational.

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