BrightSource Energy, Inc. reported that the U.S. Department of Energy has conditionally committed to provide $1.37 billion in loan guarantees to support the financing of BrightSource’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.
The loan guarantee is made possible by the Department of Energy’s Title XVII loan guarantee program, which was started in 2005 under the Energy Policy Act to support commercially proven technology in addition to innovative renewable energy technology. Under Section 1703 of the program, the Department of Energy issues a conditional commitment to guarantee loans to be provided by the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank. Execution of the final loan guarantees is subject to the satisfaction of various conditions specified in the conditional commitment.
The Ivanpah project, located in southeastern California, is an approximately 400 MW solar power facility consisting of three separate solar thermal power plants.
The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). PG&E will purchase approximately two-thirds of the power generated at Ivanpah and SCE will purchase approximately one-third. In all, BrightSource has contracted with PG&E and SCE to deliver more than 2,600 MW of electric power.
BrightSource and Bechtel, the engineering and construction contractor for the Ivanpah project, estimate that construction of the Ivanpah project will require approximately four million job hours of work and 1,000 union jobs at the peak of construction. In December 2009, Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties to ensure that California’s local workforce benefits from the project.
The Ivanpah project will employ an air-cooling system to convert the steam back into water in a closed-loop cycle. By using dry-cooling, the project will use only 100 acre feet of water per year.
The company also submitted an alternative design for the Ivanpah project designed to reduce the project’s footprint and significantly minimize any potential environmental impacts. The alternative mitigation proposal and the DOE loan guarantee represent two key steps towards the construction of the Ivanpah project.
The Ivanpah project is scheduled to begin construction in the second half of 2010 following issuance of permits by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. 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 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Facility will utilize BrightSource Energy’s Luz Power Tower 550 technology (LPT 550).