The U.S. Department of Energy has announced its latest Recovery Act conditional loan guarantee for clean energy, awarding $1.37 billion to BrightSource Energy. The concentrating solar thermal company is the second solar recipient of a loan guarantee, joining thin-film PV firm Solyndra.
BrightSource plans to use the loan monies to support the construction and start-up of three utility-scale CST plants at the Ivanpah Solar Complex to be sited on federally owned land in California’s Mojave Desert near the Nevada border.
The trio of power stations, utilizing the company’s Luz Power Tower technology, will have an installed capacity of 400MW when completed and generate electricity for the equivalent of some 140,000 California homes.
The construction of this complex will employ about 1000 people, and its operation will create 86 permanent jobs, according to BrightSource; project contractor Bechtel has entered into labor agreements with various trade unions for the construction of the Ivanpah farms.
Construction on the first plant is expected to begin in the second half of 2010 and come on line in 2012, with commercial operation for the second plant slated for mid-2013 and the third later in 2013.
Electricity from the project will be sold under long-term power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. The project will be interconnected to the electricity grid via an upgraded SCE transmission line.
The project has also been identified as a “fast-track” priority by the U.S. Department of Interior for obtaining federal stimulus benefits for California under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The loan guarantee is conditioned on financial and environmental requirements BrightSource must meet before closing on the loan, including local, state, and federal regulatory approvals.