Palen solar power project near Joshua Tree scrapped

A proposed “tower power” solar power plant near Joshua Tree National Park that drew heavy opposition from environmental groups has been scrapped.

An application to state regulators for the Palen solar power project, a joint venture by Oakland-based BrightSource and the Spanish solar power giant Abengoa Solar, was withdrawn recently.

Two 750-foot towers were originally proposed for a nearly 2,000-acre east Riverside County project that would have been near Joshua Tree National Park and the Pacific Flyway, a path migrating birds travel that often includes a rest in the Salton Sea.

David Lamfrom, California Desert programs manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said the project had the potential to be more damaging to wildlife than the 450-foot Ivanpah towers.

State regulators recently ordered the project scaled back from two towers to one.

“After carefully reviewing the proposed decision recommending approval of one tower, as well as other aspects of the development, we determined it would be in the best interest of all parties to bring forward a project that would better meet the needs of the market and energy consumers,” Joe Desmond, senior vice president of marketing and government affairs at BrightSource, said in a statement.

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