BrightSource scales back Concentrating Solar Power project

The company announced last week that it now wants to build two solar power towers instead of the three originally planned at its Rio Mesa project near Blythe and the Colorado River. Thousands of mirrors would focus sunlight on a boiler on each tower to generate electricity.

The Oakland-based company has power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison for the two units it still intends to build, company spokeswoman Kristin Hunter said in an email. The smaller project is expected to generate about 500 megawatts of electricity, enough for about 200,000 homes.

Hunter said the change would shrink the footprint by 1,800 acres, reduce the visual impacts, eliminate a need to reroute Imperial Irrigation District transmission lines and speed up construction.

Most of the land involved is owned by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The company needs approval from the California Energy Commission and U.S. Bureau of Land Management.