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BrightSource Energy, a concentrating solar thermal technology company, has announced that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved two amended BrightSource contracts with Southern California Edison (SCE).

BrightSource says the contracts, totaling 1.3 million MWh annually, will help California take a significant step toward reaching its clean energy goals. The first of the approved contracts is for a power tower project at BrightSource’s Rio Mesa site, which is designed to produce 573,000 MWh annually. The plant at Rio Mesa will employ BrightSource’s next-generation LPT technology, which features a 750-foot tall tower that allows for a high concentration of heliostats.

The second contract approved is for a unit at the company’s Sonoran West site that is designed to produce 733,000 MWh annually. The contract will be the first to deploy BrightSource’s SolarPLUSTM thermal storage system.

SCE submitted the approved contracts in November 2011 as part of a package of five contracts with BrightSource. CPUC denied SCE cost recovery for the three other contracts: a 200 MW project at Rio Mesa and two 200 MW projects at the company’s Siberia site. The Rio Mesa project will continue to move forward as planned with an anticipated permitting decision from the California Energy Commission. The Siberia project will remain a part of BrightSource’s 90,000-acre site portfolio.

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