Photo: BrightSource Energy
In The New York Times on Wednesday I write that California regulators have recommended approval of BrightSource Energy’s 392-megawatt solar thermal power plant, the first large-scale project in the state in two decades:
California regulators on Wednesday recommended that the state’s first new big solar power plant in nearly two decades be approved after a two-and-half year review of its environmental impact on the Mojave Desert.
The recommendation by the California Energy Commission staff comes three weeks after the United States Department of Energy offered the project’s builder, BrightSource Energy, a $1.37 billion loan guarantee to construct the 392-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, or I.S.E.G.S.
The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity favor solar energy projects but objected to building the BrightSource power plant in Southern California’s Ivanpah Valley, saying it would harm rare plants and animals such as the desert tortoise.
Other environmentalists argued that the project, which features thousands of mirrors that focus the sun on 459-foot-tall towers, would mar the visual beauty of the desert.
In an assessment filed on Tuesday, energy commission staff found that a smaller version of the project that BrightSource proposed last month would mitigate any damage to several protected plant species on the site.
Environmentalists, however, had said the downsized version of the power plant would not sufficiently protect rare species and continued to push for the project’s relocation to more disturbed land.
The energy commission staff determined the visual impact of the Ivanpah power plant could not be reduced but recommended that the commission’s board license the project due to “overriding considerations.”
You can read the rest of the story here.