BrightSource Scales Down California Desert Proposal

BrightSource Energy, Inc. has submitted an alternative design for the massive solar thermal power plant that has been at the center of controversy between clean energy advocates and environmentalists who say the plant will disrupt the desert habitat of endangered tortoises.

The alternate plan would reduce the footprint of the Ivanpah Solar Energy
Generating System (ISEGS or Ivanpah) project by about 12% and reduce the power capacity from 440 megawatts (MW) to 392 MW.

BrightSource filed the mitigation proposal last week with the
California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land
Management (BLM), saying the smaller footprint would minimize its potential
environmental impacts.

BrightSource said the proposal is a direct response to comments and
suggestions made during the Ivanpah permitting process’ public comment period.

If accepted by
the CEC and BLM, BrightSource said the alternative design also would reduce expected desert tortoise relocations by approximately 15% and avoid the area identified as having the highest rare plant density.

It’s not yet clear whether the alternate proposal will appease those opposed to the projects location. A Sierra Club representative told the Associated Press that the impact on desert tortoise habitat is still significant.

In all, BrightSource has contracted with PG&E and SCE to deliver more
than 2,600 megawatts of electric power.
The Ivanpah project has been identified as a “fast-track” priority by the U.S. Department of
Interior for obtaining federal stimulus benefits for California under the 2009 American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project has also been selected as one of sixteen short-listed
applicants to receive a loan guarantee under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 1703
The Ivanpah project is scheduled to begin construction in the second half of 2010 following
issuance of permits by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of the
Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

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