CEC issues preliminary assessment of 500 MW Hidden Hills Concentrated Solar Power project

On May 25th, 2012, the California Energy Commission (CEC) released its preliminary staff assessment (PSA) of a 500 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) project proposed by BrightSource Energy Inc. (Oakland, California, U.S.).

The PSA indicates that the Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System would comply with applicable laws, ordinances, regulations and standards, and that environmental impacts would be limited, with the exception of six technical sections. If the project makes it through the remainder of the regulatory process to approval on schedule, construction would be completed by the third or fourth quarter of 2015.

The Hidden Hills project will consist of two 250 MW concentrating solar power tower CSP plants, which will be located on 13 square kilometers of land near California’s border with the state of Nevada. The capital cost for this solar thermal project is estimated at USD 2.7 billion.

The six areas with a significant impact or non-compliance are biological resources, land use, socioeconomics, worker safety/ fire protection, transmission system engineering and visual resources. A final cultural resources section will be filed by June 15th, 2012. The CEC states that these areas can be resolved through additional data, further discussion, and/ or analysis.

After a public comment period, the PSA will be followed by a final staff assessment, which will serve as staff’s testimony at evidentiary hearings reviewing the proposed project. After these hearings, a committee of two commissioners will issue a proposed decision, followed by a final decision to be made by the full Commission. The CEC approved 3.64 GW of concentrating solar power in eight solar thermal projects during the second half of 2010.