Solar thermal project developer BrightSource Energy has filed an Application for Certification (AFC) with the California Energy Commission to install three 250MW power plants in California’s Riverside County. Each system is to have its own solar field and solar power tower, and the portfolio will be situated on 5,750 acres of land owned by the Metropolitan Water District.
“The Rio Mesa project will create thousands of jobs, and contribute hundreds of millions in economic benefits for Riverside County and the State of California, all while producing clean and reliable electricity for 300,000 California homes,” said Stephen Wiley, BrightSource’s senior vice president of US project development. “This project will showcase BrightSource’s world-class solar thermal technology, and reflects our continued commitment to setting the bar for environmentally-responsible solar power plant development.”
The project will also set a new solar industry record in terms land efficiency, by reducing the area required to produce solar power through the utilisation of a 750-foot-high tower and increased mirror density. All three systems will deploy BrightSource’s dry-cooling and water recycling system.
The proposed site in Rio Mesa, located 13 miles southwest of Blythe, is ideal for a solar thermal plant; it is sparsely populated, close to high-voltage transmission lines and has been set aside by the Metropolitan Water District specifically for renewable energy projects.
Although the majority of the development will be on Metropolitan Water District-owned land, the systems will encroach on a plot managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Consequently, the project will require the approval of the California Energy Commission and the US Bureau of Land Management before building work can begin.
The Rio Mesa project will also benefit Southern California’s beleaguered economy by creating up to 2,500 construction jobs during the three-year installation, and 150 permanent operations and maintenance jobs upon its completion. In addition to direct employment benefits, Rio Mesa is expected to inject over US$800 million into the local economy through construction expenditures and US$300 million in local and state taxes over the plant’s 25 year lifespan.
“The Rio Mesa project will benefit the City of Blythe by creating new, good-paying jobs and providing a boost in our local economy,” said Blythe’s mayor, Joey DeConinck. “A significant portion of the construction workers will be living and shopping in Blythe, and many of the construction materials and services for the project will be purchased locally. This project represents a huge economic opportunity for the City and we are looking forward to having the Rio Mesa solar facility as a neighbor and welcome all the workers and employees to the Blythe community.”