The California Energy Commission is set to approve the controversial Palen solar project — a dramatic reversal for the proposed 500-megawatt concentrated solar development, which seemed destined for failure less than a year ago.The energy commission issued a preliminary approval late Friday afternoon for the first of Palen’s two 250-megawatt solar towers, which will be located 60 miles east of Indio. The project’s developers, BrightSource Energy and Abengoa Solar, will be able to request commission approval for the second tower later on.The preliminary decision — which was written by the two commissioners overseeing Palen’s review process, Karen Douglas and David Hochschild — is not final, but it is unlikely to be overturned by the full commission. The state agency will hold a conference Oct. 6 at UC Riverside’s Palm Desert campus to discuss Palen — part of a 30-day public comment period — before making a final decision Oct. 29.The energy commission said in a statement that the plant is expected to employ about 600 people during construction, with a peak workforce of 1,200. Construction should last a little more than two years.Palen’s approval bodes well for the future of solar tower technology, which uses thousands of mirrors to direct… Read full this story
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