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Ivanpah Solar Power Project, Bright Source Energy, San Bernardino County, CA

STATUS: In progress

TYPE: Solar

OPPOSITION: Various environmental groups (not specified in source materials)


BACKGROUND: BrightSource is currently developing its first solar power complex in California’s Mojave Desert. The $2 billion Ivanpah Solar Power Complex will be located in Ivanpah, approximately 50 miles northwest of Needles, California, and about five miles from the California-Nevada border. The complex will be a 6-square mile facility (4065 acres) within the 25,000-square mile Mojave Desert and will generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 500,000 tons per year. 

According to a preliminary assessment, construction will require an average of 1,000 construction jobs at its peak. Once completed, the project would provide a total of about $650 million in employee wages over its first 30-year life for an estimated 90 full-time employees.

The presence of Desert Tortoises in Ivanpah and regulatory requirements to mitigate environmental impacts are delaying the construction of the solar plant, as Bright Source is burdened with the task of relocating about 26 tortoises before gaining the permission to proceed with construction. Delays not only stall construction but might also endanger the company’s opportunity to use stimulus dollars to fund the project.  A company spokesman said, “We want to take advantage of as many stimulus dollars as there are available to these packages, and there is a very important imperative and that is that the projects begin construction in 2010, to have that money available.”

The project received its federal permits by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on October 7, 2008, and its state permits from the California Energy Commission on September 22, 2010. In February 2010, BrightSource received a conditional commitment from the U.S. DOE for $1.37 billion in loan guarantees to support the financing of the project. Construction commenced on October 27, 2010.

SOURCES: Bright Source Energy http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/projects/ivanpah;
USC News http://news21.uscannenberg.org/index.php/clairewe/story/the_tortoise_and_the_sun_environmental_hurdles_of_the_largest_solar_project/;
CalFinder http://solar.calfinder.com/blog/solar-politics/endangered-desert-tortoise-must-flee-the-advance-of-solar/;
Preliminary Staff Assessment http://www.energy.ca.gov/2008publications/CEC-700-2008-013/CEC-700-2008-013-PSA.PDF;
Ivanpah Solar: http://ivanpahsolar.com/;
Bright Source Energy: http://www.brightsourceenergy.com/images/uploads/press_releases/Ivanpah_Groundbreaking_Press_Release.pdf;
Office of the Governor: http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/16369/

Last updated November 5, 2010