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PG&E Cancels California Solar Power Contracts With BrightSource

PG&E Corp., California’s largest utility, canceled plans to buy power from two of BrightSource Energy Inc.’s planned 250-megawatt solar-thermal plants, the same day that BrightSource asked regulators to suspended permitting for the $2.7 billion project.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and BrightSource “mutually agreed to terminate” the contracts relating to the Hidden Hills project because of “uncertainty around the timing of transmission upgrades,” Keely Wachs, a spokesman for Oakland, California-based BrightSource said today by e-mail.

The decision marks the second time this year BrightSource has announced a contract cancellation, after Edison International “mutually terminated” an agreement in January for the Rio Mesa 2 project near Blythe, California.

Hidden Hills was to be composed of two 250-megawatt power plants that use mirrors to focus sunlight on boilers, which produce steam that drives turbines to generate electricity. It was estimated to cost about $2.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The contracts with PG&E were approved in 2009.

BrightSource also asked state regulators to suspend permitting for the project “until further notice,” according to a filing today with the California Energy Commission.

The company “plans to continue to evaluate and collect information on the project” located in Inyo County, near the Nevada border.

“In the immediate, our focus remains on the Palen project,” Wachs said. Palen is a 500-megawatt project that was acquired in August during Solar Trust of America LLC’s bankruptcy auction. BrightSource said March 15 that the site would be co-developed with Abengoa SA.

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