BrightSource Suspends Hidden Hills Project

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Hidden Hills, the artist's impression | Image: California Energy Commission

BrightSource Energy has suspended its proposed Hidden HIlls Solar Electric Generating System project and cancelled an agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric to buy the power from the project. The company cited scheduling issues and transmission obstacles as its reasons for the decision. The move, which stops short of a full cancellation of the project, leaves BrightSource with just one pending desert solar project being evaluated by the CEC.

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In an email to ReWire, BrightSource spokesperson Keely Wachs spelled out the company's reasons for the suspension:

Hidden Hills had been touted by the company, along with the project's now-mothballed near-twin at Rio Mesa, as a necessary increment in the company's development of its thermal storage capability.


Hidden Hills would have occupied about 3,280 acres of private lands in the Inyo County portion of the Pahrump Valley just west of the Nevada State line. Its two power towers would have generated a combined maximum of 500 megawatts of solar thermal electricity, which would have been transmitted to utility customers along a circuitous transmission corridor running out of california, about 60 miles into Nevada, and then back again.

The BrightSource Notice of Suspension, posted Wednesday to the California Energy Commission (CEC) website, hedges the company's bets:

The suspension leaves BrightSource with only one project under consideration by the CEC: the 500-megawatt Palen Solar Electric Generating Station, which had been approved by the CEC for a radically different design by previous owner Solar Millennium. BrightSource's Ivanpah project, nearing completion, is the only solar power generating project on which the company has broken ground in California, though the firm has built a smaller facility near Coalinga that creates solar steam to make Chevron's local oil wells more productive.

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