SAN FRANCISCO — BrightSource Energy Inc., the U.S. solar-thermal developer, was the top bidder at an auction today in Delaware to buy an unbuilt California power plant proposed by the bankrupt Solar Trust of America LLC.
“BrightSource has been confirmed as the winning bidder for the Palen Solar Power Project,” the Oakland, California-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. “Once the court approves the sale and the conditions are satisfied, the acquisition will be complete.”
The winner of the auction couldn’t immediately be confirmed in court papers.
Palen, located in Desert Center, California, is expected to have a 500-megawatt generating capacity and is one of three unfinished projects Solar Trust plans to sell.
The others are the 1,000-megawatt Blythe project in Riverside County, California, which is fully permitted and has grid interconnection rights, and another 500-megawatt project still in the planning stage in Amargosa Valley, Nevada.
Solar Trust planned to use arrays of trough-shaped mirrors at Palen to focus sunlight on a fluid-filled pipe to power a steam turbine and generate electricity.
BrightSource, which is building its $2.2 billion Ivanpah plant in California’s Mojave desert, uses a different solar– thermal design. Its power-tower system uses mirrors to focus sunlight on a boiler atop a central tower, generating steam to produce electricity.
Solar Trust and other units filed Chapter 11 on April 2 when rent was coming due on the 7,000-acre Blythe project. The company, based in Oakland, is a joint venture of the insolvent German company Solar Millennium AG and steelmaker Ferrostaal AG.
The court on June 15 approved BrightSource as a stalking- horse bidder for Palen, enabling it to submit a minimum bid that other buyers would have to surpass. The price could be as much as about $30 million, if all contingent payments are made, according to court documents.
A hearing to approve the sale will take place June 27. Bids for the remaining projects haven’t been published by the court.
The case is In re Solar Trust of America LLC, 12-11136, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
Copyright 2012 Bloomberg