Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) canceled plans to buy power from two planned BrightSource Energy Inc. 250-MW solar thermal plants on the same day that BrightSource asked regulators to suspended permitting for the $2.7 billion project in California’s Inyo County.

Bloomberg reported that PG&E 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, Calif.-based BrightSource was reported as saying by e-mail.

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

Hidden Hills was to be composed of two 250-MW 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 with the California Energy Commission. The company “plans to continue to evaluate and collect information on the project” located near the Nevada border.

“In the immediate, our focus remains on the Palen project,” Wachs said. Palen is a 500-MW project in Riverside County, Calif., that was acquired in August during Solar Trust of America LLC’s bankruptcy auction. BrightSource said last month that the site would be co-developed with Abengoa SA. BrightSource says the project will create the world’s two largest solar power towers. That project is scheduled to come online in 2016.

Sources: Bloomberg, BrightSource

David Wagman, Executive Editor (@EPContentDirect)