Plans for two 750-foot-tall concentrated solar power towers in eastern Riverside County are under consideration again, the state announced Thursday.
The California Energy Commission is placing the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project back in the application pipeline and has set public hearings for July 8 and 9. The Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant is proposed by BrightSource Energy Co. on 5.9 square miles of public land north of I-10 near Desert Center.
BrightSource also operates the Ivanpah Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant near Primm, Nev. The new Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project would use the same technology, which focuses thousands of mirrors on central towers to create electricity.
Five months ago, an energy commission panel recommended denial of the project because of concerns about harm to birds and to sites considered sacred to Native Americans, among other concerns.
BrightSource petitioned the commission to reopen consideration so the company could provide more information about the project’s impacts.
Among others options, the company submitted paperwork describing noise cannons and other technologies that it says can deter birds from flying near the hot zones around the power towers.
In response, Commissioner Karen Douglas ordered the project to be reconsidered. Public hearings will cover the effects on birds, ways to make up for any damage to cultural resources, and the project’s overall benefits, according to the order.
The plant would create 500 megawatts of electricity or enough for 200,000 homes, according to the company. At peak construction, it would employ 2,300 workers. It will take about three years to complete, the company says.
The Ivanpah solar project started operations late last year in northeast San Bernardino County off I-15.
BrightSource spokesman Jared Blanton said Thursday in an email that the company has no comment on the energy commission’s decision to reconsider the project.
Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity who has been monitoring the project closely, said she was disappointed. The hearings in July will occur before enough data can be gathered about how the Ivanpah project affects migratory birds, she said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found that insects and birds appear to be attracted to the bright-white hot zones around the towers, and then are killed or injured from burns.