The planned 500 MW Palen Solar Power project, to be located in between the cities of Indio and Blythe in Eastern Riverside County, has been recommended for approval by the California Energy Commission (CEC) siting Commit

In a Presiding Member’s Proposed Decision (PMPD) meeting, the Committee advocated the choice of two options for the facility to avert impacting biological resources. Even with these alleviation measures the project would play a role in contributing to environmental impacts in the areas of visual resources, land use and cultural resources.

But as the advantages from the project surpass the effect of these impacts, the committee felt that this project justified the legal override. Further the Committee also ascertained that the project conforms to all ordinances, applicable laws, standards and regulations. The pronouncement for the Palen Project was grounded only on the facts recorded during the certification process.

However, the PMPD is not the absolute decision maker giving approval for the project. A document was published by the Committee for public evaluation and perusal for a time period of 30 days. The public opinion put forth would be taken into consideration, before a five member team takes the decision.

Palen Solar I,  a subsidiary of Solar Millennium, would be constructing the project. The company is also trying to seek a right-of-way grant from the Federal Bureau of Land Management’s 5200 acres of land.

As per the initial plan, the 500 MW project would have been built on 2470 acres. But the PMPD advocated alternatives have changed the project’s designs, so that it would reduce the impacts on the sand dune habitat, Mojave fringe toed Lizard and sand transport corridor. One option suggests the use of 4365 acres while the second option advocated usage of 4330 acres.

The Project plans to have two adjacent 250 MW units generating concentrating solar trough thermal electricity. It would utilize a parabolic trough technology, wherein parabolic mirrors are employed to heat a transfer liquid, which in turn generates steam. The steam expanding via steam turbine generators produces electricity. Totally nine projects have been commissioned with a 4100 MW capacity of Solar Power, of which  Palen Solar is one.