Pilots complain of brightness from huge solar farm

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 15, 2014 at 9:55 pm •  Published: March 15, 2014

He said developer BrightSource Energy was testing and calibrating the mirror assemblies, called heliostats, in August but it is unknown if that had anything to do with the reflection.

Using technology known as solar thermal, the computer-controlled mirrors roughly the size of a garage door track sunlight and reflect it onto boilers atop 459-foot towers. The sun's power is used to heat water in the boilers' tubes and make steam, which drives turbines to create electricity.

The risks of intense reflection from the solar arrays on aircraft and drivers on busy Interstate 15 were evaluated in the project's environmental study. Pilots flying within 3,300 feet of the heliostats could experience temporary blindness and compromise safety, the study found.

To prevent possible problems, BrightSource was required to develop a heliostat positioning plan within 90 days of beginning operation to avoid potential hazards and to monitor brightness.