The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released the first part of a Preliminary Staff Assessment (PSA) of the 500 MW Rio Mesa concentrating solar power (CSP) project proposed for Southern California.

This portion of the PSA finds that the project complies with all applicable laws and regulations and would have less than significant environmental impact.

This is the first step towards approval for BrightSource Energy Inc.’s (Oakland, California, U.S.) Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS). The project will comprise two 250 MW solar power tower CSP plants located on privately-owned land in Riverside County, California.





On Sept. 28th, the California Energy Commission (CEC) issued its Part A of its “Preliminary Staff Assessment” (PSA) for our Rio Mesa solar project, a significant milestone in the permitting process. Part B of the PSA is due to be published on October 15th.

Over the past 11 months, the Energy Commission’s staff has examined the Rio Mesa project and its potential impacts, and Staff’s initial assessment indicates that impacts can be offset with mitigation. The PSA was developed in coordination with other governmental agencies, including Riverside County, the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish & Game. The next step in the permitting process includes two workshops where BrightSource and the agencies will discuss the assessment and gain feedback from the public.  The process then moves to a final staff assessment (FSA) followed by formal hearings upon which the Commission will base its final decision.  

In October 2011, we filed an Application for Certification with the CEC for the development of a three 250 megawatt (nominal) solar power plants (500 megawatts nominal combined).  In May 2012, we opted to develop two of the three units in order to focus on other project sites within our portfolio.  If approved, the two-unit Rio Mesa solar project will use our proprietary solar thermal energy system and our next generation 250 megawatt solar plant design, which reduces land use by 33% or more compared to a typical photovoltaic (PV) farm and parabolic trough solar thermal plant.

The Rio Mesa project is to be located on approximately 4,000 acres of mostly privately-owned land in Riverside County, approximately 13 miles southwest of Blythe, Calif.  Electricity generated by the two plants would be enough to serve more than 200,000 homes in California during the peak hours of the day and provide over 2,000 jobs during construction. For a video simulation of the proposed Rio Mesa project, click here.  

We will continue to work closely with the Commissioners and staff as they continue their careful evaluation of the project.